Hundreds of maritime workers on Tuesday grounded operations at the Nigerian Ports Authority in Warri, Delta State to protest against the Ports and Harbour Bill.
The protest was in solidarity with the nationwide mass rally embarked on by port workers against the proposed bill currently before the National Assembly to establish Ports and Harbour Commission.
The workers, under the aegis of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Ports Authority, Shippers Association, among others, shut the new port gate as early as 7am, chanting solidarity songs.
The protesters held placards with various inscriptions like: “Nigerians, reject Ports and Harbour Bill 2015 now”, “This bill will pull our nation down”, and “It is dangerous to place harbour operations in private hands”.
Addressing journalists, the Vice President-General of the MWUN, Chris Idagbon, said the bill was a calculated attempt to further impoverish the poor.
Idagbon said: “Those who see themselves as bourgeoisies want to take food from the mouth of the poor.
“There is nothing wrong with NPA as established by the 1955 Act as Amended, but the National Assembly, through their cohorts, has decided to repeal that Act.
“They are trying to establish the Ports and Harbour Commission to take over all the functions of NPA.
“They want to concession the harbour to private hands which to us is inimical to the country.
“Firstly, this is the major place where the country earns her foreign exchange. If given to private hands, it is to the detriment of the country.
“Secondly, the security of the country would be under threat if given to private hands because this is where vessels come into the country.”
An executive member of the Warri Zone of the Senior Staff Association of the NPA, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the proposed bill would further worsen their plight of port workers., Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Ports Authority, Shippers Association, among others, shut the new port gate as early as 7am, chanting solidarity songs.