By DAPO OLAWUNI
Even as the dreaded coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to kill thousands around the world, dockworkers operating at Nigerian ports have raised an alarm over poor awareness and safety kits from terminal operators for them to board vessels, even as they urge Port Health to quarantine crew of foreign vessels before allowing dockworkers go onboard.
President General, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Adewale Adeyanju in an exclusive chat with DAILY TREND NEWS at the weekend urged the Port Health Service and the Port Quarantine to wake up to their responsibilities, saying that the level of awareness at the port is very low.
According to him, the issue of awareness and safety against coronavirus should not be left in the hands of Port Health alone, he said the management of the terminals also needs to buckle up and sensitize their workers and management.
He lamented that up till now, terminal operators at Nigerian ports have not done any awareness for their staff and the dockworkers on how to prevent the cotonavirus.
He said terminal operators have also failed to provide the necessary kits for the dockworkers to go onboard.
“The seafarers onboard the vessels at the port are coming from different countries; Asia, China, Singapore among other countries where the virus has spread to. What happens to the life of dockworkers in Nigeria? Where is the sensitization for the dockworkers and seafarers”
“We want to let the Nigerian Ports Authority know what we are going as a union, we are inviting all our members in order to sensitize them”
“In order parts of the world, safety kits are already being worn by operators at every terminal, while dockworkers and even top management workers at the ports still don’t take necessary precautions”
“The seafarers already know that they need nose covers and hand gloves, but it is the poor dockworkers that go onboard the vessel that worry us, mostly the Latching men, the crane operators, the riggers, these working in the down glove, and the crew, we cannot tell if some of the crew have gotten into these mess, this is our stand”
“We should not wait for the ministry of health, by now the safety kits ought to have been given to all the categories of dockworkers, including their own staff, because people like the latching men work hand in hand with the chief officers, duty officers and so on.
We may not know whom this endemic may have affected, this is the fear of the dockworkers now”
“The dockworkers are now afraid of going onboard the vessels, all the crew onboard the incoming vessels should be quarantined so that the dockworkers can go onboard” he said
The unionist advised his members, especially all district officers managing the dockworkers at the key apron to be aware of this virus and take necessary precautions.