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By  InnocentOrok

Hassan Bello (middle) flanked by Dr. Boniface Aniebonam (right) and Hon. Tony Iju Nwabunike (left)

The Nigerian Ports Economic Regulator, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has assured all port stakeholders that the Council will ensure smooth operations to and from the ports during the lockdown period.
The Executive Secretary/CEO of the Council, Barr. Hassan Bello gave the assurance yesterday when he engage with critical stakeholders including banks, Customs Brokers, freight forwarders, media and terminal operators.

Bello said the Lagos ports will continue to operate despite the lockdown due to the impacts its plays in the Nigeria economy.

He said “The Council has invited you here today as its ever reliable partners in disseminating information to stakeholders in the maritime industry as well as the generality of Nigerians.
It is important that we all know exactly what is going on in the sector so that our economy is not unduly adversely affected by the lockdown.

” Considering the impact of port activities on the economy, it is important that the correct state of affairs be communicated to all stakeholders in order not to exacerbate a situation which has the potential to affect the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians.

“Let me first thank Mr. President for proactively putting in place a lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States so as to stop the spread of the Corona Virus amongst the teeming population of the Federal Capital Territory and these two states of the federation.

” In our capacity as Port Economic Regulator and Trade Facilitator, Nigerian Shippers’ Council has taken steps to ensure that cargo flow continues.
As you know, even in the hardest hit countries, port operations have continued without let or hindrance.
In an interdependent world, goods continues to move around and the manufacturing of goods cannot be halted otherwise economies would be in bigger trouble than they are set to be as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many essential commodities, particularly drugs, medical equipment and consumables need to be imported by many countries including Nigeria.”

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council had stepped up its engagement with port operators by providing transportation to and from the ports daily for freight forwarders during the period of the lockdown.
Bello said that the response to this service has been encouraging.

The Council also visited some terminals in the course of the week and had very useful discussions with their operators. These discussions have led to the Council intervening on behalf of freight forwarders with banks to extend their services to port operators in order to allow them pay fees to various agencies to facilitate clearance of cargoes from ports.

” We cannot afford to have our terminals clogged up with more uncleared cargoes. We are happy to note that a number of banks have been cooperating as their branches in Apapa to ease transactions for freight forwarders”

Bello also thanked port stakeholders for their cooperation and said he was elated.

“It gives me great pleasure to report that all stakeholders have been very cooperative in a bid to ensure that activities in the maritime sector suffer minimum disruption. I note that you have been reporting on yesterday’s meeting with NIMASA. We all recognize that we are all in this together and we hope to emerge stronger at the end of this pandemic.

” Nigerian Shippers’ Council has been engaging the Port Health Services as well, as it works very hard to ensure that port users, and indeed the generality of Nigerians are protected from the virus as essential goods make their way into the country.
Nigerian Shippers’ Council has made some modest contribution in cash and protective materials towards the fight against COVID-19.

“However, its most important contribution is in ensuring that it does not drop the ball in terms of its responsibility as Port Economic Regulator in this very fluid and difficult times. This is why we continue to engage with stakeholders to ensure that the ports run as smoothly as possible under the circumstances.”

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