Truck owners, drivers and other stakeholders in the maritime sector have formed a new union, Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations, (COMTUA) aimed at sanitising the sector and getting them required recognition from the government.
COMTUA is a coalition of six existing unions in the maritime sector, namely Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Amalgamation of Container Truck Owners Association, and Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners.
Others are Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, National Union of Road Transport Workers (Heavy duty section) and Association of Maritime Truck Owners.
Shortly before embarking on a sensitisation rally to the ports in Apapa and Tin Can and its environs, the General Coordinator of COMTUA, Mr Stephen Okafor, told our correspondent that all the unions and associations that formed the new association were critical stakeholders in the maritime sector.
He noted that they came together in order to forge a common front towards solving the challenges confronting them while carrying out their business.
Okafor said there were challenges of the stakeholders contending with gridlock, bad roads, endless queues to discharge empty containers to shipping companies and alleged extortion of truck drivers at the precincts of ports at Apapa and Tin Can.
He added that the government would take the unions more seriously as they all had representatives in COMTUA.
He said: “All the unions and associations that formed the Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations are stakeholders in the maritime sector. We have the truck owners, workers, drivers or other stakeholders in that sector.
“The government has been desirous of us coming together in order to be able to present a common front whenever we require anything from the government, in terms of creating enabling environment for our business to thrive.
“There are challenges of bad roads and gridlock around the Apapa ports. Trucks queue endlessly at the Apapa axis for weeks in a bid to drop empty containers to the shipping companies. Some of the shipping companies don’t have holding bays. Our members pay demurrage for this delay. We have come together to address the challenges facing us at the ports, terminals and on the roads.”
The Deputy Head of Operations, COMTUA, Mr Omotayo Stephens, said due to the delay at the ports, the unions lost no fewer than 35 truck drivers in 2018. He explained that sometimes it took some drivers three weeks to drop empty containers at the holding bays of the shipping companies. He said, “Some of the drivers died on the wheel due to stress, no fewer than 35 of them died last year. “
Nigeria, Korea Sign MoU On Maritime Security
Nigeria and the Republic of Korea have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on maritime security and safety.
The agreement was signed last week by the Director General, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, and the Director General, International Affairs and Intelligence Bureau, Korean Coast Guard, Seonggi Kang.
According to a statement by NIMASA Assistant Director, Public Relations, Osagie Edward, the MoU provides a framework for both countries to develop, coordinate and monitor the implementation of maritime security and safety.
According to the statement, Jamoh said during the signing agreement that the MoU would be implemented to the best interest of both countries, adding that it will ultimately enhance safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.
“The relationship between Nigeria and Korean spans over many decades. This MoU which started with a statement of intent in 2018 is designed to reinforce the commitment of both countries to grow bilateral trade through maritime”, Jamoh said.
Commenting on the emergence of Nigeria’s Dr. Paul Adalikwu as the newly elected Secretary General of the Maritime Organisation for West and Central Africa (MOWCA), Jamoh said it is another testimony of the trust the international community has on Nigeria as a leading maritime nation in Africa.
Jamoh called on the Korean Government to support Nigeria’s quest to return to council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) during the elections scheduled for the first week of December in London.
He said, “It is worthy of note that Nigeria as a leading maritime nation in the West and Central Africa region is seeking election into council in category C at the IMO. We trust you will convey our message to your home country on the need to support Nigeria”.
Responding, Kang commended Nigeria for its commitment to the growth of the maritime industry.
He said, “We are impressed with the Nigerian Government’s commitment to safety and security in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea. We shall convey your message seeking support for return to council at the IMO to our home country based on conviction.
Kang expressed optimism that the MoU would assist in addressing some issues in the maritime domain.
According to him, “there are a lot of concerns in the Gulf of Guinea, especially with piracy and illegal fishing. We hope by signing this MoU, these challenges and others will be resolved”.
The MoU is for a period of five years and is expected to be automatically renewed for another five years unless any of the partners withdraws six months before the expiration.
The agreement covers capacity building, information sharing, search and rescue liaison and establishment of hotlines for direct communication at all times.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
Lagos, Ecobank Donate 34 Fibreglass Boats To Fishermen
The Lagos State Government in collaboration with Ecobank Nigeria has donated 34 fibreglass boats to cooperative societies made up of young fishermen in the state.
The boats came with outboard engines and other ancillary fishing equipment.
Speaking during the presentation of the boats, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Abisola Olusanya, said that the deployment of the fishing assets would create over 2,000 jobs in the upstream and downstream sub-sector of the state economy.
She also said the fishing assets would produce 4,531 metric tonnes of fish annually.
Olusanya commended Ecobank on the partnership to uplift artisanal fisheries value chain in the state.
According to her, the ministry partners with Ecobank and Old Mutual Assurance to provide banking services, track cash flow in the business and aid fleet expansion for the fishermen.
The commissioner disclosed that the empowerment was under the 2021 Agricultural Value Chain’s Enterprise Activation Programme inaugurated by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in July as part of the government’s commitment to support the fishery value chain.
She said each of the 34 cooperative groups comprising 20 members each would receive a boat and urged them to make judicious use of the equipment.
“Today, we are distributing the fibreglass boat to 34 cooperative groups free of charge, under the 2021 Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme.
“We need to monitor your activities to ensure that you utilise the equipment very well and also expand and increase the number of your fleet with the support of the financial institution.
“The banks are here to plan your business and increase opportunities for the generations to come. We want you all to grow your business and become multinational companies.
“We don’t want people to come from Japan, Netherlands and other foreign countries to talk about fish more than our people from the local fishing communities”, she said.
Sea Travellers To Pay More Fare To Bonny
Sea travellers wishing to leave Port Harcourt for Bonny Island may have to pay more fare, henceforth.
This follows a sudden increase of boat fares from Port Harcourt to Bonny barely a month to the Christmas season.
Boat fare from Port Harcourt to Bonny will now cost N2,500 against the initial N2,200 per passenger.
The increase in the fare was made known by the Marine Safety Officer, Bonny Maritime Transport Association (BMTA), Comrade Kings Dimkpe, during an interview with The Tide at the weekend.
The marine officer attributed the slight increase to the high cost of engine oil and the pump price of petroleum to drive the boats.
Dimkpe assured that the association would serve the passengers better and would not compromise on their safety.
He said the union would enforce strict safety terms during the yuletide and enjoined sea travellers to comply with sea regulations before embarking on their journey.
Comrade Dimkpe also appealed to boat drivers to shun recklessness on wheel and ensure strict compliance to safety rules and regulations.
He called on passengers to report any reckless driver to the union for necessary disciplinary actions.
He insisted that the union had banned night travelling, warning that any driver caught embarking on night journey would be sanctioned.
He, however, appealed to passengers not to pressurise boat drivers to sail at night, saying such is risky to their lives and the entire society.
By: Chinedu Wosu
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