Stakeholders in the maritime industry are worried about challenges in cargo handling, loss of goods and payment of compensation, and therefore are poised to find solutions that would create an atmosphere where adequate compensation would become possible in the event of loss or damage to cargo.
In this vein, Defence Fund (CDF), Nigeria Insurers Association (NIA), Seaguards International Services are collaborating and meeting to look at incessant recklessness and total mishandling of cargo as well as inability of cargo owners to obtain acceptable redress. They are therefore planning a one-day roundtable conference targeted at bringing key stakeholders to discuss in details issues bothering on “Cargo exposure to risks of damage, loss and delay at Nigerian ports and terminals.”
This roundtable was a fall-out of a courtesy visit spearheaded by CDF to the Nigerian Ports Consultative Council (NPCC) early this year in which the later canvassed extensively for an urgent change at the nation’s ports.
The visit deliberated extensively and adopted as presented by CDF, issues of crucial interest bothering cargo owners.
Azuka Ogo, secretary of CDF, said some of the issues are the need for terminal operators to immediately set up claims desks or designation of claims officers at all terminals. CDF also called for agreement on procedures for joint survey in the event of cargo loss or damage.
The Fund also suggested the need for an agreement on steps to adopt to ensure successful settlement of claims in event of cargo damage or loss. Other suggestions by the CDF were on the establishment of liability status while cargo is in the custody of any port operator and also an agreement by all providers and users of shipping services to reduce cargo exposures to risks, etc.
Kunle Folarin, chairman, Nigerian Ports Consultative Council (NPCC) admitted that exporters and importers have actually suffered as a result of cargo handling systems and procedures in Nigeria, calling for an urgent need for a drastic system change to enhance efficiency in reduction of losses and damages on cargos at the ports.
Highlighting reasons why a system change was not only necessary but crucial, H. A. Ajetunmobi, vice chairman, NPCC, said the cargo interests (exporters and importers) are the reasons why shipping companies are in operation, stating that without the cargos, no seaport and its operators could thrive.