• Saturday, May 25, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Shippers’ Council negotiates peace with agents, maritime workers to avert losses

Shippers Council gets commendation for sanitising ports, improving efficiency

Determined to put an end to economic losses recorded by cargo owners for not taking delivery of their goods as and when due, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has negotiated with protesting freight forwarders and maritime workers.

The Council intervened in the ongoing dispute between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and freight forwarders, which resulted in the latter withdrawing their services at the port and embarking on a protest.

The protest, which started on Monday, February 20, was against the methodology of implementing the newly introduced Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) valuation policy of Customs, an automated system that aids the valuation of imported vehicles.

Emmanuel Jime, the executive secretary of the NSC, who initiated the intervention process, pleaded with members of the five registered freight forwarding associations to call off the strike to enable the Council to champion further negotiations on the issue with the management of Customs.

He assured the group that the Council will escalate the matter till both parties reached an understanding.

In the end, the meeting yielded a bit of relief as the group agreed to resume the clearing of general cargo and containers from Tin-Can Island Port while vehicle clearance remains on hold till further notice.

Read also: Shippers’ Council urges maritime workers to suspend planned strike

In a related development, the Council also pleaded with the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) to suspend their proposed indefinite strike billed for March 1.

Jime, who made the appeal in a meeting with Adewale Adeyanju, the president general of the Union, said disruption of port operation can affect the economy of the country as the port is the nerve center of the economy.

“The conversation is about the notice to down tools, and we as the port economic regulator should ensure that there is little or no disruption to operations at the port. We have to show concern when there is disagreement to the level of disrupting business activities,” Jime said.

According to Jime, the Council is disappointed with the state of affairs that led to the planned strike particularly when the issue involved was dated as far back as 2014 with regards to the International Oil Companies (IOCs) engaging with stevedoring companies.

Jime commended the Union for staying off strike when the Minister of Transportation intervened in the matter earlier.

“I plead with you to give negotiation a chance. This time with Shippers Council playing a midwife role to enable us meet with the Minister again on this issue,” he solicited.

In the end, Adeyanju assured the Council that the Union will go back to the drawing board to consult with its members in order to manage the situation for the greater good of the maritime industry.

Before now, the union had issued a 14-day strike notice to the Federal Government over the refusal of the International Oil Companies (IOCs), to allow the Stevedoring Companies access to their platforms to commence operations, and denying registered dockworkers the right to operate in the IOCs platforms as required by law.