Four commercial banks open Apapa branches to ease cargo clearing –Bello
Four commercial banks, including Zenith, UBA, FCMB and GTBank, have agreed to open few of their branches in Apapa to ease transactions for cargo owners and their freight forwarders during the lockdown period in Lagos State.
The lockdown was imposed in the state in order to contain the spread of Coronavirus pandemic, Hassan Bello, executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), has said.
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting in the Council’s office in Apapa at the weekend, Bello said Nigerian ports cannot afford to have the terminals clogged with more uncleared cargoes.
He added that the Council was presently discussing with other banks to join in the effort to ensure that the port remained operational as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Considering the impact of port activities on the economy, we have been discussing with banks to extend their services to port operators in order to allow for payment of fees to various agencies and to facilitate clearance of cargoes from ports,” Bello stated.
According to him, seaports in the hardest-hit countries have continued without hindrance, and goods have continued to move around. 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.
He said that many essential commodities, particularly drugs, medical equipment and consumables need to be imported by many countries including Nigeria.
“As Port Economic Regulator and trade facilitator, Nigerian Shippers’ Council has taken steps to ensure that cargo flow continues. It is against this background that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council 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,” he added.
He stated that the Council had been engaging with the Port Health Services to ensure that port users, and Nigerians are protected from the coronavirus as essential goods make their way into the country during this period.