NPA, Customs, others move to ease port operations - PUNCH
By Anna Okon
The Nigerian Ports Authority is championing the fight against the spread of COVID-19, as well as making it easy for operators to conduct business at the ports during this period.
The agency is doing this in collaboration with the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, shipping lines and terminal operators.
The stakeholders say the spread of COVID-19 in the maritime industry must be halted since this is a sector that presents the hope of salvaging the economy in the light of plunging global oil prices.
For instance, the NPA in a recent memo, suspended demurrage payment on cargoes at the seaports, noting that this was in recognition of the pressure that the pandemic would impose on businesses.
The agency said it had responsibility to relieve businesses of this burden, to further promote the Federal Government’s ease of doing business objective.
“The authority recognises the financial implications of these policies on the terminal operators and will consider a shift in our operational charges to ameliorate the situation of stakeholders,” the agency said while making a deal with terminal operators.
On Tuesday, the Nigeria Customs Service collaborated with the NPA to evacuate 400 overtime containers from the Lagos Port Complex to Ikorodu.
The agency said this was done to address congestion which had been made worse by the current lockdown.
The Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, who was on tour of the Lagos ports, urged importers and agents to use the window to evacuate their cargoes.
She said both parties, the NCS/NPA, had agreed to evacuate 1,500 overtime containers trapped inside the ports.
In addition to this, the agency had earlier donated its Agura Hotel to be used as isolation center for patients of the pandemic.
Also engaged in the efforts to ease business for operators during the pandemic is the CRFFN.
Recently, the agency declared that freight forwarders would continue to work during the lockdown and urged the government to provide protection for members going about this business.
The Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, CRFFN, Samuel Nwakohu, called for palliatives and protective gears for the freight forwarders.
The NSC, on its part, had made donations in both cash and kind to the cause, while providing buses to ferry operators from their locations to the ports.