Stevedores have condemned the alleged lack of respect for Nigerian laws by international oil companies (OICs) operating in the country.
This is against the backdrop of a Marine Notice published by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which mandated stevedoring firms to return to location and commence operations.
The leadership of the National Association of Stevedoring Companies, who made this assertion, said that IOCs had flagrantly disregarded the nation's laws in this regard.
Speaking on the fate that has befallen stevedores in Nigeria, the President of the group, Mr Bolaji Sunmola, said that the OICs had become lords onto themselves, thereby the laws regulating the activities of stevedoring operations were not being respected by these group's off-shore operators.
Sunmola noted that the management of OICs did not allow stevedoring firms to go into their facilities to work when they (stevedores) reported at their designated locations.
He said the IOCs would always claim that they (IOCs) did not know them.
The NPA, he said, had done the needful, but that the IOCs would still frustrate the operations of the stevedoring firms.
Sunmola also stated that the IOCs had at a point challenged the NPA for engaging stevedores for them, a development he said he had created a crisis situation in the sector.
Recall that the NIMASA had, last week, published a marine notice where it warned stevedoring companies to commence operations at their dedicated locations or face sanctions.
NIMASA's Director General, Dr Bashir Jamoh, in the notice, said that the agency had directed all duly registered stevedoring companies with operational areas allotted by the NPA, which were yet to start operation, to mobilise to their work locations.
Jamoh said that the affected companies should report any encumbrances to the agency.
The directive, according to the agency's boss, was in line with the Stevedoring Regulation, 2014, gazetted by the Federal Government of Nigeria, developed pursuant to the NIMASA Act, 2007.
NIMASA also notified all operators of ports, jetties, onshore or offshore oil and gas or bonded terminals, Inland Container Depots (ICDs), offshore dock terminals, dry ports and platforms and other work locations to grant duly appointed stevedoring companies access to their premises for commencement of operations.
He also said only corporate bodies duly registered in Nigeria would be allowed to employ dock labour or engage in stevedoring work on board or from ships. Such corporate entities must have satisfied the requirements for registration specified in the Stevedoring Regulation, 2014band obtained a Stevedoring license from NIMASA.
"Every dock labour employer or stevedoring company shall provide proper and safe working conditions for the convenience and proper working of its employees and ensure that all stevedoring plants and equipment supplied and being used in their operations are safe and in good condition," the agency stated.
Stevedoring companies, by the notice, were mandated to provide adequate insurance cover for health, personal injury, loss of earnings, and compensation, relating to any incident affecting dockworkers or stevedores in the course of the work of the dock labour employer or the stevedoring company.
Jamoh warned that the consequences for non-compliance with the guidelines set out in the Stevedoring Regulation, 2014, shall be enforced, in addition to other penalties, such as detention of vessels, sealing of operational area or work location and prosecution.