The 14 November strike entered its second day at the Apapa and Tin Can Ports, which account for 89% of the country’s total maritime trade. Trucks were not allowed to convey goods, forcing shippers to incur demurrage.
The Nigeria Customs Service generates an average of N4bn ($5m) daily from the ports. However, our correspondent reported that customs officers were playing cards to bide their time as the ports were deserted due to the strike.
An internal memo signed by trucks and transit parks officials stated that trucks would not be granted access to the ports until after the strike had been called off.
“As directed by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), we regret to inform you that the ongoing labour union industrial action has led to a temporary suspension of truck releases from parks and pre-gates until further notice.”
The port authority stated that the move had become necessary in order to prevent potential road congestion. “Yes, trucks are not allowed in for now,” Charles Okaga, manager of the ports tells The Africa Report.
Electricity workers join
Local media also reported that public schools in Lagos were closed as the union of teachers joined the strike in solidarity.
Earlier, the National Union of Electricity Employees directed its members to commence full mobilisation to ensure compliance with the directive of the Nigerian labour unions to embark on a nationwide strike.
This is expected to cause a nationwide blackout soon even though the government says it is unlikely.
But reports say the electricity supply has worsened since the strike began, an indication that the industrial action may have already begun to affect supply.
In a chat with The Africa Report, economist Muda Yusuf said the incident could discourage both local and foreign investors.
“The economy is still struggling to find its feet and when you have this kind of disruption it has negative effects on the economy,” says Yusuf, the CEO of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise.
Apart from demurrage, Yusuf said the loss of labour hours along with the loss of wages for truck drivers would also have economic implications.
“There are some exports that should go through the port, and they may be perishable items that would be affected. It is a major loss to the economy,” he says.
The Tinubu administration had said earlier in the week that it inherited an empty treasury and the country was nearly bankrupt.
The latest figures show that the inflation rate has exceeded 27%, although KPMG says headline inflation may hit 30% next month.
The country’s currency has been falling for several weeks even as its foreign reserves have been depleted.
The strike was allegedly caused by the beating of Joe Ajaero, the leader of the Nigerian Labour Congress during a peaceful protest in Imo State just days before a governorship poll last week.
Ajaero accused officials working for Imo Governor Hope Uzodinma of being behind the attack. But the governor accused Ajaero of trying to incite residents against him, saying he was working for the opposition.
The organised labour group then asked the governor to apologise and ensure that those behind the attacks were arrested or face industrial action, but the governor refused.
The National Labour Congress forced the shutdown of the airport in the state and threatened to impose a nationwide strike if nothing was done.
A spokesman for the president attacked the organised labour unions, saying they were being used by the opposition. This infuriated the workers even more as they called on all their affiliates to join the strike.
National Security Adviser Nuhu Ribadu tendered an apology to the labour leader and asked him to call off the strike.
Ribadu said those behind the assault had been arrested and an investigation would commence soon.
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