By Steve Agbota
A crisis of confidence has hit the Council of Shipping Unions and Associations (COMTUA), following the alleged ongoing violation of the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into by COMTUA members by some members, notably the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
Some of the core members of COMTUA, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), the Nigerian Road Transport Association (NARTO), the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) and the Association of Road Transport Employers of Nigeria (RTEAN), have therefore withdrawn their corps memberships.
MWUN had, in a letter to the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), dated March 10, 2022, signed by the Secretary General, Felix Akingboye, and obtained by our correspondent, alerted the attention of the Chief Executive of the NPA to these significant developments in COMTUA.
“I am instructed to inform you, Sir, that the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has withdrawn from the Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA),” the letter read.
The union said: “We are being forced out of the Council due to the continued violation of the provisions of the Council’s Memorandum of Understanding by members, in particular the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).”
“While listing the main objectives of the Council to include, among others, the collaboration of all maritime unions and associations to stem the incessant and relentless traffic congestion which has plagued the access routes to the country’s seaports over the years, speak with one voice on membership issues, and synergize with each other to foster solidarity, the union lamented that NURTW has consistently violated this well-established understanding,” the union added.
The union specifically singled out NURTW for writing frivolous petitions against its members (MWUN) and other stakeholders i.e. government agencies, which led to the police arrest and the resulting embarrassment to the union.
The MWUN also said that the NURTW was peddling lies against its (MWUN) members and other stakeholders.
The union (MWUN) said that as a focused and responsible union, it could not remain part of an organization that “says one thing and does another”.
“Accordingly, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) ceases to be a party to any action or discussion of the Board from the date of our letter of withdrawal from the Board, a copy of which is attached for your perusal.
“A copy of the Board’s acceptance letter of our withdrawal dated July 12, 2021 is also forwarded. It is also recorded that other key Board members such as NARTO, AMATO, RTEAN have also withdrawn their Board membership.
“However, the Maritime Workers’ Union, as an industry player, still remains a member of the steering and enforcement committees set up by the Ministry of Transport to decongest the access roads to the port in order to facilitate business practice in ports,” the MWUN said in the letter.
Our correspondent also reports that the AMATO had also issued a notice of renunciation of its membership of the COMTUA.
Signed by Chief Remi Ogungbemi on behalf of AMATO, the Association wrote: “Once again we have learned that AMATO is mentioned, printed or presented as a member of COMTUA. Therefore, it has become expedient for us, as AMATO, to inform the competent authorities and the public that:
“There has never been a time when AMATO aligned with COMTUA and will not be part of COMTUA. Any claim that AMATO is a member of COMTUA is false.
“That as AMATO, we wouldn’t fall for cajoling; rather we prefer to align ourselves with any group that shares the same ideology/principle with us. This membership in a group is done by choice and not by force. That COMTUA should refrain from mentioning or imprinting AMATO as a member of COMTUA.