Return of Wharf Rats: The security at the terminals has been compromised – Adeyanju

Comrade Adewale Adeyanju is the President General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN).

 In this chat with Segun Oladipupo, he explains the steps the Union is taking to nip the influx of wharf rats into the port through making his officers in the port to sign undertaking against report of such in their respective units and districts.

He advises terminal operators too to beef up security in their ports and make sure lighting of the terminals are properly done as well as overhauling their security operatives against the malady.

Adeyanju also speaks about the efforts of Rotimi Amaechi as the Minister of Transportation in his first term.

Excerpts.

Q: How do you feel when you heard that wharf rats have returned to the port?

A.  When I heard that there is a return of those things that have been buried, I became a little bit worried and wonder where it could be coming from. Is it ENL, PTML or where. But as a foot soldier myself, I had to go underground and I found out that these problems are coming from Ports and Cargo and not only Ports and Cargo because others still cover their own but the Ports and Cargo own is so obvious that it became the talk of the day.

So, what I did was to call the officers of the local unit of MWUN because if you don’t have a thief in the house, an outside one will not come in and we made it known to the management as well that they should go and put their security in place.
If they have CCTV, they will be able to identify the port rats they are talking about.

Q. :But the spokesman of Ports and Cargo said that they had CCTV at the terminal.

A. If you go to APMT now, before you enter their gate, they know somebody is coming, if a pin drops at night, they will see it. That is the CCTV we are talking about not the one you have and there is no light in the terminal, how do you expect the thing to  work?
Those are the things I think the management should put in place. If there is no light in the terminal, the CCTV will not work.
For me, I don’t want anyone to put the name of the union in bad light that is why I called the officers in charge and branch officers of MWUN, dock workers branch. We had a very good deliberations.
Part of my meeting with them is to read my riot act that any worker, any unit or district officer that gets himself involved in stealing or conniving with anyone to steal will be sanctioned and expelled from the union.

So, I asked them to sign undertaking that is the officers because the workers cannot ordinarily connive with the port rats without the knowledge of the in-house officers.
That is the way I handle things. When I was the President of dock workers branch, you hardly hear of the port rats but I think they are taking advantage of the new man that is there, not that the man is not working but they should not take advantage of him.
As the PG, I should be at home but I work on weekends so much that I work in rain too.
So, I investigated what happened and I found out that there was no light even their security needs to be overhauled and I told them that because they are part and parcel of what is going on in that place.
I told my workers that no Police, NDLEA or customs officer will ask them to go and take anything from the container for them, they should not try it anymore.
So, if a police officer asks you to take, ask the officer to take it by himself in his uniform with stolen item and the authority will not sanction him. I think those are the things we put together.

Q.   What is the update on the Dockworkers who died at ENL terminal?

A.   We have finished the negotiation and we are waiting for the payment day. They will pay what the guy is entitled to like the group life insurance, his terminal benefits and his gratuity while the charterer, that is the shipping line, will pay the workman compensation belonging to the dead boy.

Q : You were at the African of seas recently, how do you think we can build our economy leveraging on the maritime sector?

A.  Before you talk about the Nigerian economy, you need to talk about the roads and light. Development hinges on these two things. Where is the road? That is what is affecting the economy of this nation. If our roads are good and motorable, no investor will like to go and do business in Cotonou or Ghana. In those days, the Ports were as accessible as anything, vessels came in and went out but nowadays, you can count the number of vessels that are on bulk cargo operations.

 In ENL, there about three or four vessels. It is about the road, go to Mile 2.
If the road has been contracted out for repairs, they should carry out the repairs on time, put the life of an average business man in your heart and do the job on time. Now, people are dying everyday as a result of that bad road. It took them almost two years before they could fix the Wharf Road and up till now they have not finished the road.

Q : The recent colloquium held in honour of Amaechi for his stewardship as Minister of transportation, do you think he deserves it? 

A.  He is a performer. He dedicated his strength and time to rail and he performed excellently well there. If we have been having people like that in past and have been concentrating on transportation, we will by now will not be running here and there. For me, I commend him for that performance. He dis wonderfully.

Q.  Recent appointments in the National Assembly committees into maritime sector.

A. Stakeholders have complained that they know nothing about the industry and might not be able to perform well.

It is about trainings.  It is you and I that will train them. Knowledge is power.

Q : But people are looking at the time for training before settling down to the job.

A.  The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority is almost two years in office, is she not working? If we have been having the type of that woman in the industry, NPA would have developed more than this. She learnt faster and even knows more than the people that trained her.

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