Port activities were shut down in Port Harcourt , Rivers State on Tuesday when maritime workers temporarily blocked the roads leading to the two seaports in Rivers State – Onne seaport and Rivers Port Complex – in protest against the Port and Harbour Bill 2015.
The protesters are members of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria , and the Senior Staff Association of Communication , Transport and Corporation , Maritime branch.
The workers lamented that the bill, which had gone through the second reading at the National Assembly , was intended to privatise maritime and harbour services and also revoke the Nigerian Ports Authority Act of 1958.
Some of the placards displayed by the protesting maritime workers read : ‘ This bill will put our nation in danger ’ , ‘ Harbour is not for sale ’ , ‘ The promoters of Ports and Harbour Bill 2015 are out to milk the economy dry’ , and ‘ Stop them now !’.
The MWUN National Deputy President -General , Mr . Tonye -Harry Leonard, told newsmen that maritime workers would neither relent in their protest nor rest until the National Assembly and promoters of the bill gave them audience .
In his remarks, a representative of SSACTAC , Mr . Tunde Agboola , said the protesting maritime workers would strategise better on how they would shut down the seaports if the National Assembly refused to stop the bill .
“ The seaport operations have been privatised since 2006.
“ The privatisation that took place then was that port operations were ceded to some concessionaires. Port services are the major job of the NPA and if they are being ceded to private hands , the security of the nation will be at risk.
“ The bill obviously is not in the interest of Nigerians because millions of maritime workers will lose their jobs if the seaports are privatised . This will affect the economy because not just the NPA workers will lose their jobs , but also the dock workers, the seafarers and the shipping workers, ” Agboola said .