The hard stance of Gov. Nyeson Wike of Rivers State which has crippled the operations of Rivers ports since the commencement of #COVID-19 lockdown in the state has continued to give goose pimples to the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
It would be recalled that Gov. Wike, in his resolve to stop the spread of Coronavirus in his state, has imposed stringent measures, including restriction of movement, which does not exclude essential workers at the two ports in Port Harcourt and Onne.
Despite the Federal government pronouncement that port workers should be exempted from the lock down as they are on essential services to keep the ports working, Wike has continued to clamp down on port workers in Rivers State, thus disrupting ports activities at Port Harcourt and Onne Port.
The management of the NPA has therefore expressed grave concerns about the economic loss the intransigence of Wike may likely cause.
Our correspondent however gathered that the NPA has appealed to the Chairman of Presidential Task Force on #COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, to intervene in the matter.
It was further learnt that the NPA was particularly disturbed by the report it was getting that the task force on #COVID-19 in the state has instructions to turn back NPA staff on their way to work.
The situation was aggravated with the arrest of 20 dockworkers with their shuttle bus on their way to work last week.
Even though Gov. Wike has grudgingly released them after much pressure from high networth people following the strike threat issued by the Maritime Workers Union, there is yet to be any improvement in the lull that has crippled the port operations in the state.
However, there was a respite for workers and operators at the ports following the ease on the lockdown which Gov. Wike announced on Sunday.
In the state-wide broadcast, Wike announced the lifting of the lockdown from Tuesday May 12th to Wednesday May 13th during which he asked the residents of the state to use the period to get essentials things such as food and medicines as the lockdown would be reinstated on Thursday, May 13th
However , the ease of the lockdown has been extended till Sunday, May 17th, 2020.
The NPA workers, dockworkers and operators at the Rivers ports who have hitherto been hounded and harassed by the Task Force on #COVID-19 in the state during the lockdown, are said to have now heaved a sigh of relief as they have cashed in on the relaxed lockdown to go to work.
“The activities at the ports that were almost crippled during the lockdown have started to pick up gradually as port workers could now access the port during the grace period with any fear of arrest “, a source said.
The NPA management was however not sure if the situation will come back to the status quo when the lockdown resumes on Sunday.
“We are not sure if port workers on essential duties would be exempted when the lockdown resumes on Sunday.
“The Governor was not categorical on this during his broadcast.
“So if the Governor continues with the harassment of port workers on essential duties when the lockdown resumes on Sunday, then the activities that are sluggishly picking up now at the ports may go on recess” a disturbed inside source told our correspondent.
Our correspondent, however, learnt that the NPA was hopeful that the expected intervention of the PTF on #COVID-19 would have softened the hardline posture of Gov. Wike on Port workers in the state before the lockdown is reinstated on Sunday.
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