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Labour, INTELS On Collision Course Over Sack Of 1,600 Workers

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  • As Unregistered Dockworkers Resurface At terminals, 10 years Into Port Concession

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) is warming up for a facer-off with leading port concessionaire; Integrated Logistics Services (INTELS) over the latter’s plans to sack over 1,600 dockworkers in its employ.

INTELS Nigeria Limited are the operators of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Area‎ in Onne, Rivers State, with other operations in Warri, Delta State and Calabar, running supply services for oil and gas industry operators.

Shipping Position Daily gathered last week that the company has been badly hit by the economic policies of the Federal Government and as such, it could no longer maintain its workforce, especially the dockworkers. Confirming this development to Shipping Position Daily correspondent last week, Public Relations Officer of INTELS, Mr. Isidore Sambo said that the company like every other concessioned terminal‎ is bleeding as a result of the harsh economic situation affecting the maritime industry. He said the company is going through re-organization just like every other company in the maritime sector.

He however denied the figure of workers to be sacked, saying that the process is not yet concluded. “Companies are going through re-organization at the moment‎ because of the economy, so just like every other company we are also going through re-organization”.

“The process is not completed yet so I cannot confirm the sacking of anybody yet, anybody quoting that figure, I have no idea about it‎. I cannot speak for the union (NLC) and I have not had any contact with them, it’s up to them” “INTELS have been badly hit just like every other terminal operator‎, everybody is weighing what to do and we are also in the same process” Sambo stated.

Also confirming the development to our correspondent, President of Dockworkers Branch of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Adewale Adeyanju said that the union is already in talks with INTELS in order to reduce the number of workers that have been pencilled down for sack. Adeyanju said MWUN had taken the matter to the NLC and the apex body has taken over the matter with INTELS.

‎”We are about to start the negotiation, the Nigeria Labour Congress has stepped into the matter, we are not going to accept this from INTELS because the number is too much” “Most‎ of the companies are folding up as we all know because things are not moving well, the economy is affecting the maritime sector as a whole”.

“Vessels are not coming in and it has affected revenue, INTELS now is about to downsize 1,600 workers and this will affect us the more, but this figure is too much” Adeyanju stated He said the union is calling on INTELS to thread with caution, arguing that there is no job anywhere for the sacked workers. He lamented that as a result of the harsh policies of the Federal Government, vessels are no longer calling at INTELS and other concessioned terminals as before.

He said the situation is prevalent in Lagos, Calabar, Port Harcourt and Warri ports. “What is the plight of those being sacked? There is no job anywhere and this is why the NLC is calling on INTELS to thread with caution” he said.

In the meantime, there are strong indications that the pre-port concession cleansing of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), which included registration of all dockworkers and removal of several others from the ports, have broken down.

Shipping Position Daily confirmed that hundreds of unregistered dockworkers, who claim to be members of the Dockworkers Branch of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), have found their ways back to the terminals, a development which may precipitate unrests in port operations. Our correspondents confirmed that leaders of the union are aware of the development whereby those who are not eligible to work are already fomenting trouble, but the union leaders claim to be helpless. Insider sources confirmed to our correspondent that the unregistered dockworkers’ comeback into the port is aided by unit heads and district officers, allegedly for political reasons.

According to them, the unregistered dockworkers work hand-in-hand with the district chairmen and unit heads. Sources also disclosed that the unregistered dockworkers are known as “blood tonic”, and that the unregistered dockworkers get their ‘salaries’ from unit members by way of donations.

One source said: “Our leaders have been able to bring those blood tonic back to the ports in order to foment trouble and we know it will boomerang when the time comes”. He confirmed that the recent demonstration at the ENL Terminal in Apapa port was master-minded by the unregistered dockworkers.

But, while confirming the infiltration of unregistered dockworkers into the port, President of dockworkers branch of the MWUN; Comrade Adewale Adeyanju accused the Nigeria‎ Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) of failing to control the crowd that troop into the ports. He confirmed that fake dockworkers have taken over ENL terminal. He blamed the influx on the non-implementation of the International Ships and Ports Security (ISPS) facility Code.

Comrade Adewale Adeyanju in a chat with Shipping Position Daily in his office last weekend alleged that there has been a total breakdown in the implementation of the ISPS Code at some of the concessioned terminals Adeyanju said that the standard practice at the port is that each dockworker must have their terminal operator’s identification cards and NIMASA identification cards before NPA can grant them access into the port‎.

He however said that this is not being implemented. He alleged that the protest carried out by dockworkers working‎ at ENL Terminal recently was hijacked by some dockworkers who have since been sacked by the terminal for stealing and other vices. ‎”Unregistered dockworkers infiltrating the port has to do with NIMASA because they have their port labour officers through the stevedoring companies, I would not know all the dockworkers, it is NIMASA that employed them through the stevedoring contractors”.

“The law is very clear, if you are not registered as a dockworker by NIMASA‎, it is N1million or six months imprisonment, those people that are infiltrating these ENL workers, majority of them have left ENL for almost six years, but when they heard that they are about paying workers, they started coming in and this is why you see agitation at the port”. ‎

“Why do we have the ISPS code, we know what it says; that if you are not a worker you have no right to enter the terminal, we are talking about porosity of the port and influx of people into the ENL terminal, not only ENL, there are other terminals like that and they need to improve on this so that infiltration will be eradicated‎” he said.

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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