Nigerian Dockers Threaten Strike Over Bad Roads
Nigeria's longshore union is threatening to shut down the nation's seaports if the government doesn't remove abandoned trucks and fill in potholes on the road to Lagos' Apapa and Tincan Ports.
Longshore unions normally strike over working conditions, wages, hours, work rules or plans for privatization; a strike over road conditions is relatively unusual. The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) described its concerns as a matter of safety for its members. “People defecate, sleep, cook, wash clothes, bathe and do whatever they like on the road. As a result, it is now a haven for criminals who seize every opportunity to assault and rob innocent Nigerians including our members who trek to and from work, daily, on the unmotorable road," the union said in a statement. "The roads have completely deteriorated and have claimed several lives and properties. In fact, we lost two of our members on the Oshodi-Apapa Dual Carriage Way, which has completely failed."
MWUN's leadership issued a similar threat in May 2017, but it backed down after the Nigerian Ports Authority promised to make repairs. The following month, minister of public works Babatunde Fashola announced that the road would be repaired by a public-private consortium, with funds from Flour Mills of Nigeria, AG Dangote Construction Company Ltd and the Nigerian Ports Authority. However, MWUN contends that "nine months after the union suspended its strike action, the roads continue to deteriorate," despite the government's promises.
The damage is taking an economic toll, too. MWUN said that shippers are routing their cargo through the nearby port of Cotonou, Benin in order to avoid the infrastructure bottlenecks on the Oshodi-Apapa Road. “We are afraid that if things continue like this, it would lead to the retrenchment of workers and we cannot afford to lose any of our members to joblessness," the union said.
Last year, Aliko Dangote, president of Dangote Construction, claimed that the Nigerian economy loses $400,000 a week due to the state of the port access road. "More than 60 per cent of our country’s import and exports come through the port and we leave it unattended," he lamented.