Apapa Gridlock: NPA Orders Shipping Companies to Remove Empty Containers Within Four Months

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Eromosele Abiodun

Following the gridlock in Apapa ports’ access roads that has inflated the cost of doing business at the ports, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has announced measures to redeem the situation.

Among the measures, the NPA has directed shipping Companies to immediately deploy sweeper vessels to evacuate empty containers from the ports to clear the backlog of empty containers littering the country within four months.

The NPA also directed the shipping companies to use of Onne Ports for such sweeper vessels. The NPA in a statement yesterday stressed that the measures will reduce the attendant financial burden that the congestion at the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports has brought on importers.
According to the NPA, effective yesterday, there will be an increase in rent-free period for cargoes housed in the terminals from the current period of three free days before commencement of rent charges to 21 free days before commencement of rent charges for a period of four months.

According to the NPA, “with effect from yesterday, December 18, 2018, there will be an increase in the demurrage-free period on return of empty containers from the current five days period to 15 days for a period of four months. “The Nigerian Customs Service is urged to immediately commence the process of auctioning of overtime cargoes. This is imperative as the ports are meant to be transit and not storage facilities. These auctions should be carried out on the spot at port locations and every buyer would be given a stipulated short period to evacuate the cargoes out of the ports after which they will be re-auctioned.”

It added, “Terminal operators are however encouraged to negotiate and grant waivers to consignees to facilitate the evacuation of these cargoes to mitigate against the auctioning which will result in a total loss of revenue by the terminal operator and the loss of cargo by the consignee.

“The authority wishes to state that these measures are emergency steps taken to immediately reduce the financial burden of congestion on citizens as the federal government proceeds to permanently resolve the congestion through the following: reconstruction of the port access road, the provision of trailer park and holding bays with e-call up system, the enhancement of cargo evacuation using rail transportation and inland waterways with barges among others.
“The authority recognises the financial implications of these policies on the terminal operators and shipping companies and will consider a shift in our operational charges to ameliorate the situation of stakeholders, “it stated.