Lagos – The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on Tuesday said it would settle all the outstanding arrears of wages of tally clerks and on-board security men (a unit of dockworkers) before Dec. 15.
The Executive Director Marine and Operations of NPA, Mr David Omonibeke made this known to newsmen in Lagos after a joint meeting between government agencies and stevedoring companies.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that representatives of NPA, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Federal Ministry of Transport were at the meeting.
NAN reports that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, terminal operators, stevedoring companies, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) were also represented at the meeting.
The maritime workers union had repeatedly shut down activities at the nation’s ports over non-payment of the tally clerks and on board security men.
“Our meeting is to enable the agencies, the ministry, to make inputs on the best way forward.
“So we hope to get positive answers,’’ Omonibeke said.
He said that apart from tally clerks and on-board security men employed by the NPA, some terminal operators also engaged the services of some tally clerks and on-board security men.
Omonibeke said NPA was working toward making sure that the terminal operators perfect their bills with the tally clerks and on-board security men before Dec. 15 when the contract would be terminated.
“Government is making efforts that before the expiration of the contract, the right organisations or the terminal operators would be responsible for payment of the services of tally clerks and on-board security men.
“Bills are processed and the ports authority wants to make sure that before the contract ends, it will be able to sort out the outstanding bills before Dec. 15.
Also speaking, the Executive Director, Maritime contractnd Cabotage Services of NIMASA, Dr Calistus Obi, said everybody in the meeting spoke out in the interest of his or her organisations.
Obi said the regulators approached the issue with the enabling Act of the different agencies in the maritime sector .
He said it would be a continuous interaction, adding that hopefully, there would be lasting solution without short-changing the government
“Our interest is for everybody to operate within the ambit of our laws.
“NIMASA’s position is clear. It is predicated on Section 37, Sub-Section 1, A, B, C, D, of the NIMASA Act which mandated us to intervene on issues relating to dispute on welfare and wages of dockworkers in any ports in Nigeria.
“We have regulatory powers which include sanctions; where the dockworkers fail,’’ Obi said.
The President, National Association of Stevedoring Companies (NASC), Mr Bolaji Sunmola, said the meeting was meant to determine whether tally clerks should stay or not.
“Our position still remains that payment should be made as and when due and that NPA should be responsible for the payment of tally clerks and on-board security men,’’ Sunmola said.
He said NPA had paid the stevedores 40 per cent of the arrears of wages being owed and had promised to pay the remaining 60 per cent before Dec. 15.
A Service Provider and a member of the NASC, Hon. Abba Kalona, said the maritime workers had stated categorically that tally clerks and on-board security men should still remain at the ports.
He said it was left for the government agencies to analyse and point out the way forward.
“It was stated that the concessionary agreement should be reviewed every two or three years.
“It is our belief that there should be tariffs on cargoes to sort out the payment of tally clerks and on-board security men,’ Kalona said. (NAN)