The Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has urged the Federal Government to resuscitate Warri Port to create employment for the youths.
Okowa who decried the high rate of unemployment in the state, also called on the management of the port to make it more viable to attract investors and create job opportunities.
The governor made the call at the weekend, during a Town Hall meeting with the youths comprising #EndSARS protesters, civil society groups, students, social groups and community leaders across Delta South and Delta Central Senatorial districts.
He said that with the congestion of the ports in Lagos State, the Federal Government should resuscitate the Warri Port and other seaports in Delta in order to create employment opportunities for the youths and also accelerate the nation’s economic growth.
Okowa said his administration had adopted skills acquisition and entrepreneurship programmes to empower the youths in the state.
“We will try to improve our processes of helping our youths to acquire skills and provide them with starter packs.
“The more active ports we have, the better for the nation; our economy isn’t working the way it ought to work because Lagos is congested.
“The Warri channel needed to be dredged and the Federal Government has awarded phase one of the dredging but until phase two is awarded, we will not be able to achieve any success story on that”, Okowa said.
He thanked the youths for coordinating themselves peacefully, assuring them that his administration would continue to address some of the issues raised.
The governor pointed out that town hall meetings were opportunity carved out to hear from the people directly in order to provide solutions to issues bothering them.
Dockworkers Get 2,000% Salary Increase After 17Yrs
After 17 years of engaging Dockworkers in the Nation’s Port terminals, the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) says the Concessionaires at the nation’s seaports have increased the salaries and wages of Dockworkers by 2,000 per cent.
Chairman, STOAN, Princess Vicky Hasstrup, stated this during the maiden Dockworkers Day celebration organised by the Shipping Correspondents Association of Nigeria (SCAN) in Lagos.
At the event, with the theme, “Dockworkers: The Unsung Heroes of Nigerian Port Reforms”, the Chairman said the Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) ensures fair treatment of dockworkers, payment of living wages and institutionalisation of retirement benefits to them.
“You all are witnesses to the situation at the ports and the poor working condition of dockworkers before the 2006 port concession exercise. Before the concession, dockworkers were poorly paid.
“They did not have conditions of service. Indeed, they did not have identifiable employers. Their safety, in the course of performing their duties, was not taken to heart.
“They were exploited, dehumanised and underpaid. But all of that has changed, thanks to the bold move by the Federal Government to reform and concession the ports in 2006.
“As you all know, the port concession transferred cargo-handling operations from NPA to professional private terminal operators, who won lease agreements ranging from 15 to 25 years.
“NPA remained the landlord, technical regulator and provider of marine services.
“Seventeen years into the port concession exercise, there is a general consensus that the exercise has fully delivered on its promises.
“The landlord model of port concession adopted by the Federal Government has freed the government of the financial burden required to develop and operate the terminals.
“This burden has been transferred to the private terminal operators also known as concessionaires.
“In addition to not spending money to acquire cargo handling equipment and other associated terminal operating costs, the Federal Government now realises much more revenue from the ports.
“In addition to modernising the port, we have collectively worked together to give a new lease of life to our dockworkers.
“Every other year, members of the STOAN and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, under the supervision of NIMASA, sign new CBA midwifed by the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) to further enhance the welfare of dockworkers in the country. t
“In essence, unlike what obtained before port concession, our dockworkers now have conditions of service.
“Today, the average take-home pay of a dockworker has increased by more than 2,000 per cent over what it was in 2006. The CBA between the Union and Terminal Operators has also ensured industrial harmony at the port.
“We recognise the importance of our dockworkers. They are professionals and essential workers. They are vital and crucial to port operation. Indeed, without dockworkers, we cannot talk of effective port operation.
“The story of the success of port concession cannot be written without copious mention of the role of dockworkers”, Haastrup said, assuring the commitment of terminal operators to the welfare of dockworkers.
Also speaking, the President-General, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, congratulated SCAN for putting together the eventful programme to celebrate dockworkers.
“I want to congratulate SCAN for putting together this eventful programme to celebrate our own: the veterans and our unsung heroes still on duty”, Adeyanju stated.
He said the era of hooliganism and thuggery in the union has since given way to a new mindset, which has worked in favour of dockworkers.
According to him, “Nigerian dockworkers are no longer backbenchers or troublemakers at the port, but have rather become essential port workers and critical
Physical Goods Examination Outdated -Minister
Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, says the physical examination of cargoes by Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) officials is archaic.
Speaking at the maiden visit to the head office of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in Apapa, Oyetola condemned the practice by NCS, saying, “The issue of Customs inspecting cargoes physically is archaic. We need to engage the Customs more.
“I witnessed the physical examination of a cargo yesterday and I wonder how much it would take to inspect the lot of cargoes piling around.
“I understand that about 6,000 cargoes are lying there at the ports not cleared. There must be an understanding as to when the cargo should be declared abandoned and use due process to sell them off.
“Some of the cargoes we were told have been there since 2011. What is the use of occupying that space? There is no economic advantage for keeping overtime cargoes for that long.
“We need to engage Customs to see the best way to evacuate them.
He further warned that the present government will not tolerate corruption at the nation’s seaports.
“I have gone round to look at the state of our ports, and it is very discouraging. I am not blaming anybody because the ports are old. I would want us to replicate what I saw today at Lekki deep seaport in other places.
“My concept of port development is more of Public Private Partnership (PPP), so it is important for us to start thinking about that”, he said.
FG Assures On Ports’ Rehabilitation
The Federal Government says it would not allow the Nation’s Sea Ports to collapse, but would rehabilitate them for optimal use.
Minister for Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, who stated this during a tour of Apapa and Tin Can Ports in Lagos, said the Apapa and Tin-Can ports need reconstruction and must not be allowed to collapse.
He said there is need for immediate rehabilitation of the ports in order to prevent their total collapse.
“To avoid the collapse of the port, we need to rehabilitate the port as a matter of urgency and dredging must continue while we put other things in place.
“I have gone round to see the decays myself. I have been having ministerial briefing since the last 10 days and I have seen the challenges and the need to activate a lot of things about our ports.
“The infrastructure is almost collapsing with what I have seen so far, and it is a major rehabilitation that has to be carried out.
“We are carrying out remedial work on the quay wall. I have asked them to let us have the report of what they carried out so far. We need to know the numbers so that we can get approval from the President for remedial work.
“We need to restructure and put the right infrastructure in place, as a way of revitalising the economy. We rely so much on the Ports, and there are lots of other opportunities that have remained untapped for so many years, for which we must commend the President for creating the ministry”, he said.
Oyelota promised to engage the Federal Ministry of Works on rehabilitation of the port access roads.
“On access road, it is important to put it in place. We need to engage the Minister of Works to see what we can do together and I have discussed with the Ministry of Transportation to see what we can do with the rail. I believe with all those things in place, we are good to go”, he stated.
Earlier, at Terminals C and D, Lagos Port Complex Apapa, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of ENL Consortium, Princess Vicky Haastrup, said her company has the largest number of port workers, especially dockworkers.
While reiterating support for the Marine and Blue Economy Minister, Haastrup said the maritime industry is a huge industry with enormous opportunities to generate more revenue into the coffers of the Federal Government.
She said ENL Consortium, which has more than 2,000 dockworkers in its payroll, is set to increase its investment at the port as soon as all necessary approvals are obtained.
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