Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has accused the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), terminal operators and shipping companies of conniving to deny the federal government of the much needed revenue from the ports through under declaration of tonnages.
President-General of the union, Tony Nted stated this in a chat with journalists in Lagos.
To sustain the revenue leakage, he said the shipping companies and terminal operators have impressed it on NPA to ensure that sacked dockworkers, such as Tally Clerks and Onbaord Security men were not recalled in spite of their importance and relevance in the port operations.
He said the absence of Tally Clerks and Onbaord Security men was responsible for the recurrent scourge of tonnage under declaration and its negative impact on the nation’s economy.
According to him, “The leakage of revenue through under declaration of tonnage should be seriously tackled. In this regard, we reiterate that the Tally Clerks and Onboard Security Men should be reinstated to continue the critical job of uncovering and discouraging under declaration of tonnage which is often done with unholy collaboration of NPA, shipping companies/agents and terminal operators.
“The government has to take action. Recently, a shipping company under declared goods worth $26 million, we raised this with the NPA nothing was done and this is happening on daily basis. Tally Clerks are capable of stopping this through their independent physical tallying process. Over 2,000 Tally Clerks are involved. Their reinstatement now will go a long way in reducing the number of unemployed Nigerians and also reduce the misery of their families.”
He disclosed that no fewer than 20 shipping companies had shut operations in Nigeria due to unfavourable government policies, leading to the retrenchment of over 3000 workers in the last one year.
Nted, lamented that the jobs of over 2000 workers were also on the line and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene to save the sector from imminent collapse.
Nted who declined to name the affected shipping companies, said they were verifiable in the ports. He however warned that many more shipping companies were on the verge of folding up and were only doing skeletal services at the moment.
The union demanded among others that: “All access roads to the ports as a matter of urgency should be expanded and rehabilitated to handle cargo traffic in the ports. The traditional rail operations in our seaports should be restored to reduce the pressure on our highways and daily fatal accidents and deaths from containers. Waterways should be developed for delivery of laden containers and heavy equipment through our coastal waters into the hinterland.”
He added: “The tank-farms, which are now dangerously located close to the ports, residential areas and along the expressways and access roads close to the ports should be relocated far away from the seaports to stave-off the perennial gridlocks on the roads. The volume of vehicles imported into Nigeria through Nigerian ports has collapsed to an all-time low, with consequent loss of thousands of jobs in the maritime sector.
“The new duty regime for vehicles introduced since 2004 and application of the new rate of exchange rate for duty calculations have made the importation of cars and trucks into Nigeria far too expensive. In the last two years, the number of vehicles arriving Nigeria has shrunk by almost two thirds, while the volume of cars smuggled through the Cotonou border has continued to rise unabated. It is therefore necessary that the federal government reviews its stance on the Automative policy so as not to inflict any more suffering on the workers who are already having a hard time with price increases every day.