By Eromosele Abiodun

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) yesterday made good its threat to sanction shipping companies whose actions led to the recent industrial action by truckers in Apapa. The industrial action had resulted in severe congestions at the port, prompting the NPA to slam a 10-day suspension of service on four shipping companies.

.The affected shipping companies whose suspension takes effect today are: Maerskline, Cosco Shipping, APS and Lansal.

The NPA said in a statement that it took the action as part of efforts to resolve the protest by truck drivers at the Lagos Port Complex and the Tin Can Island Ports, Lagos.

According to NPA, “The suspension follows the authority’s checks, which revealed that the four companies have failed to fully comply with the directive to acquire and operate holding bays as they have either failed to utilise their holding bays at all or do not have adequate capacity to handle the volume of containers that they deal with.”

The NPA noted that some of the companies had also been found to import a larger number of containers than empty containers exported thereby making the country a dumping ground for empties.

“These conducts have contributed to the persistent congestion around the Lagos Port Complex and the Tin Can Island Port, spreading to other parts of the Lagos metropolis where truck drivers with no immediate business at the ports now park their trucks.

“At the expiration of this suspension, the authority will review the level of compliance to its directives and determine further actions.  In addition to this, the NPA will henceforth embark on a regular compliance check of the operations of holding bays by shipping companies and terminal operators and defaulters will be sanctioned.

“Stakeholders have also agreed that while the call up system through the ports management as advised by shipping companies would remain in force, personnel of the Nigerian Navy will discontinue the issuance of call ups, even though they will remain on the traffic management team.

“Finally, the Authority wishes to state that the planned introduction of a new service charge called “Empty positioning fee” by shipping lines is illegal and should not be honoured by any operator. The authority is grateful to all stakeholders for their cooperation,” it stated.