As part of efforts to reduce the financial burden that the congestion at the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports had brought on importers, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has announced an increase in the number of demurrage and rent free days at the ports.
In a statement signed by the NPA General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communication, Mr Adams Jatto, the management said 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.
NPA also said with effect from Tuesday, 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.
Jatto said that shipping companies should immediately deploy sweeper vessels to evacuate empty containers from the port to clear the backlog of empty containers littering the country within four months.
The general manager said NPA encourages the use of Onne Ports for such sweeper vessels.
He said that the authority also urged the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to commence the process of auctioning of overtime cargoes immediately.
“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.
“The terminal operators are however encouraged to negotiate and grant waivers to consignees to facilitate the evacuation of these cargoes to mitigate the auctioning which will result in a total loss of revenue by the terminal operators and the loss of cargo by the consignee,” Jatto said.
The NPA spokesman said that the authority wishes to state that these measures were emergency steps taken to immediately reduce the financial burden of congestion on citizens.
He said that 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.
Jatto said that government would also reduce congestion by enhancement of cargo evacuation using rail transportation and inland waterways with barges, among others.
He further said that the authority recognises the financial implications of these policies on the terminal operators and shipping companies and would consider a shift in the operational charges to ameliorate the situation of stakeholders.
Jatto, however, said that the authority appreciated all stakeholders for their cooperation as they seek to put an end to the congestion at the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports. (NAN)