The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, has called on terminal operators, shipping companies, port managers and allied stakeholders to do all they could to mitigate the effects of the present congestion at the nation’s seaports.
According to her, the issue of ports congestion should be of concern to all and therefore they should look into the issue of evacuation of empty containers, increase in free days of storage, wavering of demurrage for a definite period of time, creating a window of some period to accommodate the concerns of importers, etc
She stated this while addressing key stakeholders at a meeting at the NPA corporate headquarters in Lagos.
Bala-Usman told the stakeholders that the meeting was convened in compliance with a directive from the Vice President of the Federal republic of Nigeria and Chairman, Ease of Doing Business Council, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on the need to find lasting solution to the issue of ports congestion.
She further noted that government is desirous of getting things done more smoothly, and therefore NPA will do everything possible to facilitate trade in the maritime sector, adding that the Authority would encourage shipping companies to patronize other Ports outside Lagos, particularly Onne Port.
She informed the terminal operators that among the efforts NPA has made: include the use of barges to move cargoes to Ikorodu, collaborating with other stakeholders to construct access roads in Apapa, encouraged Dangote Private Jetty Project, promoted Intermodal Transportation System etc.
Responding to the concerns raised by some terminal operators that the Nigerian Customs Service (NC) has not auctioned any cargo at the Port in recent times, the MD appealed to the service to step up efforts at auctioning over time cargo on time in order to discourage importers from turning the port into storage facility and that the owners of such cargo should be asked to remove them immediately.
Speaking at the meeting, MD of ENL Consortium, Mrs Vicky Haastrup said the measures being taken by the federal government will affect their revenue negatively. Many operators present also expressed similar concerns.
However, Bala-Usman assured them that what is at stake now is an emergency situation and that they are subject to review after some time.