BY INNOCENT OROK
Terminal operators in Lagos ports are yet to implement the 21 days waivers of Storage Charges as mandated them by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) despite nine days into the lockdown in Lagos as declared by the Federal Government.
The NPA has ordered that due to the lockdown by the federal government, but for continuous ports operations, terminal operators are to waive 21 days storage charges beginning from March 23rd, 2020 for all cargoes in Lagos ports in order to bring succour to Importers and their Agents.
Speaking on Arise Television this Morning, the National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ( ANLCA), Iju Tony Nwabunike lamented that despite the difficult circumstances Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders are operating from, terminal operators are yet to implement the NPA twenty- one days free storage charge period.
He said Customs Brokers find it difficult to access the ports due to the lockdown until the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in collaboration with the Council for Regulations of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) step in to provide the buses which assisted his members for easy entry and from the ports.
“The NPA has actually given us 21 days waivers on terminal changes, but it has not been implemented yet. We are looking forward to the implementation . Even the 21 days is not enough due to the fact that before even the lockdown, people were scared of the Covid19 as such, the ports was witnessing skeletal services.”
On how to ease congestion in Lagos ports after the Coronavirus pandemic, Nwabunike said its going to be very hectic and troublesome, but advice that,this is the time for cargoes in the Lagos ports to be transfered to Bonded Terminals and the maximum use of Eastern ports of Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri ports.
” It is going to be very hectic and troublesome, we were told clearly that is only essential goods that are to be cleared from the ports during this period. Essential goods like medicaments, hospital equipment, beverages etc and this are not up to 30% of cargoes in the ports. And as you know the Ships are discharging every container, so the congestion will be hectic after the pandemic and that is why I said the 21 days storage charges waiver given by NPA is not even enough “.
Nwabunike, however commended the Federal Government for allowing ports operations to continue during the lockdown as the maritime sector is next to oil in sustaining the economy. He called on the government agencies to continue to assist port stakeholders to carry out their duties during this trying period in Nigeria.