- Says Nigeria wrongly listed among countries with closed ports
In a bid to prevent further congestion at the Lagos ports following the blockade mounted by several state governors around state boundaries to restrict movement and holt the spread of COVID-19, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has said it will engage the state governors through the presidential taskforce on the pandemic to ensure such containers are allowed to move freely.
The Managing Director of the NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman stated this yesterday during her inspection of terminals in the Lagos ports.
According to her, “I am also going to raise the issue after my inspection with the respective state governors and also ensure that this is raised at the highest level through the presidential taskforce. I think that as responsible leaders where you understand that indeed there is certain economic aspect of your states that are tied to linkages in the ports, we should be responsible and allow these corridor to function efficiently while securing the lives of your citizens, providing the necessary protocol all Nigerians against any threat but recognising that these corridors that are economic corridors around the port operations needs to be sustained in a secured environment.”
Also, as a way of addressing the port congestion, she said the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has agreed to fastrack the clearance of over 1,500 overtime containers.
She said the NCS has already inspected 400 of them and are being moved to the federal government’s overtime cargo warehouse at Ikorodu
“We have discussed with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and they have given approval for 400 containers to be cleared and moved out of the port to the federal government overtime cargo warehouse at Ikorodu. That is the same across the board for all terminals. Why we are calling on all consignees to come out and collect their cargo, they should also be mindful that some of these cargo that are considered overtime are been moved to Ikorodu where they will be auctioned in line with the guidelines stipulated by the NCS”.
She also berated certain organisations linked to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for listing Nigeria among the 70 countries that have shut down their ports due to COVID-19.
“I am curious as to what agency will list Nigeria among countries that have shut their ports. I think entities should be held accountable for wrong listing and false information because the shipping companies are very much aware that the Lagos port is operational; vessels berthed yesterday and they have been berthing every other day,” she explained.
She revealed that the NPA has also directed terminal operators to give rent-free days for a period of 14 days, to enable Nigerians clear their cargo during the lockdown
“We have notified the terminal operators to give rent-free days for a period of 14 days; this was even before the lockdown happened. We have engaged with them on the level of cushion we are going to provide for them. The federal government will look at the amount that they forfeited by giving importers rent-free and government will reimburse them through credit for the amount that they gave up for letting consignees keep their cargo in their location. However, we will not encourage this going forward so as not to give room for congestion.