At Last, NIMASA Grants Dockworkers, Seafarers Free Movement As Essential Duty Workers

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The Federal Government through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has issued a new guideline saying that Nigerian seafarers and dockworkers are now essential duty workers and should be granted passage to and from their residence to the seaport or jetties to perform their duties.

In a marine notice issued by NIMASA and sighted by DAILY TREND, the agency tasked employers of dockworkers to take responsibility of ensuring that all practicable preventive measures are taken to minimise occupational risks

Recall that President of Seafarers Branch of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Comrade Francis Bunu had told our correspondent exclusively that NIMASA was coming up with the Marine Notice to address the challenge of free movement of seafarers across the country.

The seafarers were stuck onboard, unable to go home to their families due to the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The union had sent an appeal to the federal government to classify seafarers as essential duty workers, as stated by international bodies such as ILO and IMO.

The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike recently arrested 20 dockworkers for allegedly violating the lockdown rule in the state. The workers were later released after stakeholders intervened.

NIMASA in the latest marine notice has however categorised dockworkers and seafarers as essential to the nation’s economy.

According to NIMASA, “Employers are responsible for providing, where necessary and so far as is reasonably practicable, adequate protective clothing and equipment at no cost to the dockworkers ”

NIMASA also directed that employers must ensure that workers who absent from work as a result of COVID-19 are compensated for the suspension of earnings they suffer as a consequence.

“Mandatory use of nose masks shall be enforced within all Terminals and jetties, mandatory temperature checks shall be conducted on all staff before accessing the terminals and anyone who presents temperature above 38 degrees shall not be allowed entry”

“All docklabour employers shall ensure that all bus deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic shall have 50% maximum capacity, ensure that passengers wear nose masks, provide sanitisers for all passengers and drivers to use and have all buses frequently disinfected ”

“All employers shall ensure social distancing of two meters maintained between people in the workplace and other public spaces within and around port terminals”

Leadership of the two seafarers union in Nigeria at the weekend confirmed to DAILY TREND that same notice has been issued for the seafarers in order to ensure crew change.

Comrade in a recent chat with our correspondent said “If a seafarer is signing off in Lagos today and he is going to Warri, how would he get there? There is no way because the roads are blocked, they are even safer onboard vessels than we that are ashore,”

“The union has written letters to the presidency, NIMASA and other parastatals on effecting crew change for seafarers and to classify them as essential service providers. NIMASA said they are waiting for the President to give the approval to that effect,” he said.

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