COVID-19: NSC calls for synergy among port users, agencies
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has called for synergy among port users and agencies to support the Federal Government efforts to contain spread of Coronavirus pandemic and sustain port operations.
The Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr Hassan Bello made the appeal in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos.
Bello said that movement should be restricted and supply of crucial commodities should be ensured during the COVID-19 period, and the ports must also functions optimally.
He said that agencies and organisations exempted include, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS); Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Freight services and National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
Others are Port Health Services; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency.
Also, all Seaport Terminal Operators; Shipping Lines/Agencies and Dock Workers, Stevedores, Freight Forwarding Services, Cargo De-consolidators, Barge Operators, Marine and Port Police, Cargo Truck Drivers, banks and other service user or provider at the ports.
He said that NSC identified with the proactive measures by the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
”This is in line with the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari nationwide address on March 29.
”The President had made it clear that ports stay operational. Port workers, users and providers of services and government agencies are part of essential services and should have unfettered access to the port.
“The President also directed that there should be movement of cargo as long as they have been subjected to necessary checks.
”For cargo delivery and evacuation from seaports to be effective, interstate cargo movement by road and rail should not be restricted.
“In that regard and to ensure uninterrupted supply of crucial commodities, some services shall remain open during this period, albeit with minimal operations to enable the ports function, while access will be restricted and closely monitored,” he said.
Bello said that to grant access and free movement to and from the ports, the officers needed to present valid means of identification duly issued by the respective agencies, organisations and services listed above.
He noted that the council as Port Economic Regulator and an arbiter, was conscious of the fact that obligations, responsibilities, duties and rights may have been frustrated.
He added that they are discussing with all parties for balanced solution to be achieved especially on the issue of demurrage and incentives to facilitate the clearance of goods from the ports.
“The devastating effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has made it mandatory for restrictions which are critical to the reduction of transmission of the disease so that health professionals can cope with the challenge.
“As intervention, NSC has donated protective gears worth N5 million for Port users to be distributed to relevant field and operational staff.
“The Council also donates N5 million to be used collectively in the fight against COVID-19 in Lagos and Abuja.
“To ease movement of accredited freight forwarders who have business to conduct at the ports and other port users, NSC is providing buses to and from the ports.
”The buses will leave the following locations at 8:00 a.m. during the period with effect from April 1.
“Festac (by Apple junction); Okokomaiko (at Alakija under bridge), Surulere (by National Stadium), Oshodi (at Charity bus stop) and Ikeja (at Ikeja along bus stop),” the executive secretary said.
Bello added that NSC had been inundated with complaints that banks are not offering services with respect to port operations.
He said that the attention of the banks was, therefore, drawn to the notice by the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which allows operations in the financial system.