By Fakoyejo Olalekan (nairametrics.com)
The Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association(NMNOWTSSA) and the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) have disclosed that 300 Nigerians working on the Dangote Refinery have been sacked.
Why they were sacked: The seafarers raised the alarm after the 300 Nigerian crews were sacked and replaced with Chinese expatriate. The labour unions said the dismissal and replacement shows a pattern of Chinese taking over seafarers’ job in Nigeria.
According to a letter written to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), the labour unions said the Nigerian crews working on the Dangote Refinery at the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos were sacked, with the vessel managers insisting they do not need Nigerians to work with them.
The management company for the vessel is Anglo Eastern Ship Management while the owners of the vessel are COOEC China.
Effort to reach a resolution: Both unions requested a meeting with NIMASA to discuss how the issue affects the maritime sector as well as proffer solutions. The situation sends a wrong signal to the international community.
The organised labour said the influx of foreign seamen contravenes the cabotage act of 2003. Therefore, they are urging the apex maritime regulatory agency to revisit the situation and take quick actions towards ensuring strict compliance to the cabotage law.
“OUR ATTENTION HAS BEEN DRAWN TO THE ABOVE SUBJECT MATTER IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE CABOTAGE ACT. 2003.
“ALL NIGERIANS ONBOARD THE HYSY698 VESSEL WERE SACKED. WE WERE ALSO INFORMED THAT THE VESSEL MANAGERS SAID THEY DID NOT NEED ANY NIGERIAN TO WORK WITH THEM.
“THE VESSEL WAS DETAINED BY NIMASA FOR FAILING TO COMPLY WITH THE MANNING REQUIREMENT OF THE CABOTAGE LAW AND WAS LATER RELEASED AFTER 3DAYS, WHICH IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. PLEASE, WE ARE OPEN TO A MEETING ON THE ISSUE.
“THE VESSEL IS ALREADY AT THE WORKSITE TO COMMENCE OPERATION SOON. LIKE WILDFIRE IN THE HARMATTAN, WHICH CAN DO NOBODY ANY GOOD, WE ARE INFORMED THAT THE OWNERS AND AGENTS OF THE VESSELS REFUSED TO WORK WITH NIGERIANS ONBOARD, RATHER THEY ALREADY HAVE A FULL CREW OF CHINESE SEAFARERS FROM THE MASTER OF THE VESSELS TO THE LEAST MAN ONBOARD.
“INFORMATION AT OUR DISPOSAL REVEALS THAT THE DANGOTE REFINERY PROJECT AT LEKKI, LAGOS SHALL BE DEPLOYING TWO AHTS AND LAY BARGE FOR ITS USE.
“THE VESSELS WILL BE USED FOR THE INSTALLATION OF PIPELINES, SBM AND ETC.
“THE AHTS HAS A MINIMUM CREW COMPLEMENT OF 22 EACH AND THE LAY BARGE IS TO CARRY 200 STAFF STRENGTH ONBOARD.
“WITH THEIR BACK TO BACK, THE TOTAL WORKFORCE WOULD BE 500 PERSONNEL APPROXIMATELY AND THE DURATION OF THE CONTRACT IS 2 YEARS PLUS.
“THE MANAGEMENT COMPANY FOR THE VESSEL IS ANGLO EASTERN SHIP MANAGEMENT AND OWNERS OF THE VESSEL ARE COOEC CHINA.”
The letter was signed by the Secretaries of the two unions; namely Comrade Julius Efokpor and Felix Akingboye