Tension has enveloped the Nembe Creeks in Bayelsa State, following the alleged takeover of jobs from Nigerians by Ghanaian nationals, a move which the aggrieved Nigerian crew said was against the law.
The Nigerians have written a petition tagged, “Unlawful Replacement Of Nigerian Crew With Ghanaians At Nembe Creek In Bayelsa State By Capt. Dash (Aiteo General Manager),” to the Executive Director of Operations, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), urging the agency to probe the alleged lawlessness currently going on.
According to the affected Nigerians, it was tragic that their jobs should be unceremoniously taken from them without an explanation and then given to foreigners.
The crew further stated in the petition: “We, the Nigerian crew, are willing to work but the company does not require our services without reason, therefore we are requesting that our salaries be paid to the end of our contract and repatriation be arranged for us to our respective homes before we can let the Ghanaians board and then we can handover, but we are not happy to handover to Ghanaians in Nigeria water of NVC operation.”
Speaking on behalf of the crew of MV Galilean 14 working at Nembe Creek in Bayelsa State, Engineer Johnbull Ajagbawa, said over 100 jobs had been taken over by Ghanaian nationals.
Ajagbawa explained that Aiteo is the operator of Nembe Crude Oil Export Terminal Limited at Nembe Creek in Bayelsa State and the vessels operating in the field, “are owned by Marine Assets and Offshore Supply Vessel which is operating from No. 13 Fourth Circular Road Cantonment, Accra, Ghana.”
According to him, “We the crew of Galilean 14 signed a six-month contract with Navias LLC Dubai on the 21st of April, 2023 and we boarded the vessel the same day at Lagos anchorage.
“On the 29th of April, 2023, MV Galilean 14 departed Lagos anchorage in convoy with MT. FTM 21 and arrived at Nembe Creek anchorage Bayelsa State on the 1st of May, 2023.
“On arrival at Nembe Creek, we met Galilean 21 and MT. FTM 22 is already at Nembe Creek Anchorage. MV Galilean 14 was at the Anchorage when MV. Galilean 35, MT. FTM 23, 24, and 25 arrived at Nembe Creek Anchorage and Galilean 7 (VLCC) arrived at Brass offshore respectively for operation.
“The MV. Galilean 14, 21, and 35 are serving as utility vessels assisting in towing, escorting, mooring and unmooring of MT. (Motto Tanker) FTM 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 respectively with crude to and from FLB jetty and VLCC Galilean 7, running near coastal voyage operation.
“Since the arrival of Galilean 14 at Nembe Anchorage, several crew changes have taken place onboard MT. FTM 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, MV Galilean 21 and VLCC Galilean 7 of which previous crew were foreigners without Ghanaians. All the crew change which took place onboard these vessels to replace the foreigners are all Ghanaians, Vietnams and other nationalities except for Nigerians which is against cabotage law.
“The only vessel with Nigerian crew are MV Galilean 14 and 35. MV Galilean 21 was the next vessel with complete Vietnamese crew which was supposed to be manned with Nigerian crew.
“The Nigerians boarded the vessel on 5th June 2023 and were asked to disembark the next day 6th June 2023, and to rejoin the vessel pending when the Vietnamese disembark, only the Master and Ch. Engineers were left onboard for proper handover.
“On the 10th of June 2023 the Nigerian Master and Ch. Engineers were also asked to disembark and board pending when the Vietnamese disembark, only for the Nigerians to be replaced with Ghanaians after disembarking the Vietnamese. The Nigerian crew were sent home without pay after their services for these days including the Master and Chief Engineer.
“On the 23rd July 2023 at 10:42 am, we got this message from Captain Dash-Aiteo General Manager, “Good morning, due to a change in management of the vessel all crew of Galilean 14 will be signed off this afternoon. Please prepare for the handover. New management company crew are on the way to vessel.”
“This means all the Nigerian crew onboard the remaining vessels MV Galilean 14 and 35 should disembark same day, said Ajagbawa.
Ajagbawa further stated that on the 23rd July 2023 on the same day, at about 12:35 PM, “we saw the Ghanaian crew coming to relief us, then it became obvious that the company does not want Nigerians to work onboard any of their vessels running NCV in Nigeria waters which is against the Cabotage law and a clear violation of our contract agreement.”
He noted: “We are therefore appealing to NIMASA to come to our aid and ensure that Nigerians secure the jobs in these nine vessels operating NCV in our country and that the company meets the MLC and ILO requirements for Nigerians’ welfare.”
Our reporter reached out to NIMASA spokesman, Mr. Osagie Edward, who said that the Agency was yet to receive the petition.
His words: “We have not received the petition to my knowledge. The petition should be properly addressed to the ED Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, not ED Operations.”
He, however, promised to work with his colleagues to commence an investigation into the matter.BEWARE All Rights Reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without prior express written permission from Juliana Francis