By Stephen Ubanna
The directive given to all duly registered stevedoring Companies with operational areas allotted them by the Hajia Zainab Bala Usman led Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, barely three weeks ago, have started yielding results.
The Federal ministry of Transportation agency was said to have notified all the terminal operators, jetties,onshore and offshore oil and gas terminals, bonded terminals, Inland Container depots, offshore dock terminals, dry docks and platforms and other work locations to grant the duly registered stevedoring Companies access to their premises for Commencement of operations.
The terminal operators and the other work locations were said to have acted according to the instructions of NIMASA, forcing the stevedoring companies which had been out of operation for months to mobilise on site.
Recall that the Bashir Jamoh led NIMASA, had waned that only stevedoring companies registered in Nigeria would be allowed to employ docklabour or engage in stevedoring work on board or from ships. The agency had said that such Corporate entities ‘’must have satisfied the requirements for registration specified in the Stevedoring Regulation, 2014, and obtained a Stevedoring license from NIMASA.
The agency was said to have given a matching order to ‘’ every dock labour employer or Stevedoring Company ‘’ to ensure they provide proper and safe working conditions for the convenience and proper working of the employees and also ensure that all stevedoring plants and equipment supplied for their operations are safe and in good condition’’.
They were equally, mandated to provide ‘’adequate insurance cover for health, personal injury, loss of earnings and compensation relating to any accident affecting dockworkers or Stevedores in the course of the dock labour employer or the Stevedoring company. The leadership of the NASC, may have known that NIMASA , under the close watch of Jamoh, would not take it from any Stevedoring company that fail to comply with the new order that they have hard on the Corporate entities.
During a recent visit of Bolaji Sunmola, the President of NASC, and hisdelegation to Jamoh, the NIMASA Director General ‘ in his Lagos office, he had intimated him of the arrangement put on ground since they moblised on site for operation to improve Stevedores welfare.
He may have gladdened the heart of the NIMASA boss when he said that the Association ‘’has provided a platform for discussion and implementation of policies affecting maritime labour, with the focus on cargo handling operations’’.
The NASC, President who could not hide his feelings was said to have acknowledged the ongoing efforts of NIMASA ‘’to enforce the new Stevedoring Regulations’’ and gave his words of their readiness ‘’to work with the agency to successfully implement the regulations aimed at improving its’ revenue generation and sustaining capacity building within the nation’s maritime sector.
Many believe that the steps taken by Jamoh and his Management Team, to force the Stevedoring companies and other docklabour employers to ensure they improve on the welfare of the dockworkers engaged in their operations, they may not have considered it necessary to do so.
For the NIMASA, helmsman to have appreciated the steps the leadership of NASC, has taken to improve the capacity and welfare of stevedores speaks volume. This may have informed why he said ‘’closer collaboration between the Association and the agency would result in more efficient operations at the ports and better working conditions for the dockworkers’’.
He was said to have urged the NASC leadership ‘’to be more proactive in communicating the challenges faced at any point in time in order to facilitate the timely interventions by the agency’’. He pointed out that the understand its’ responsibility towards the dockworkers as it is committed to ensuring that their ‘’rights and welfare are safeguard all times’’.
Speaking as an insider, he said,’’NIMASA is, as always willing and available to assist dockworkers’’, stating that ‘’it remain committed to facilitating an enabling environment for stevedores to operate and thrive’’.
Appealing to the NSA leadership, to ensure deeper partnership and participation of the stevedoring companies in the current effort to amend the NIMASA 2007 Act, the Maritime Regulatory agency Director General declared that ‘’it is the only way to realise a more robust maritime sector law that would work for the country’’.