Coronavirus: NSC seeks free access to banks, agencies staff to facilitate port operations
…Commits N10m in fight against COVID-19 pandemic
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), port economic regulator, has listed 21 industry players including banks, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority, Port Health Services, banks, shipping line agencies and terminal operators, whose services are required to enable seamless operations during the 14-days lockdown in Lagos.
According to the Council, field and operational officers as well as essential staff of all the agencies as well as organisations involved in cargo clearance at the port shall be granted freedom of movement to and from ports, upon presentation of valid means of identification.
Speaking in a statement issued in Lagos recently, Hassan Bello, executive secretary of the Council, said the present situation has indeed caused unimaginable disruption on the logistics supply chain such that users and providers of services are seemingly unable to carry out their obligations for reasons beyond their control.
“The President has made it clear that ports should stay operational. Port workers, users and providers of services as well as government agencies are part of essential services and should have unfettered access to the ports. The President also directed that there should be movement of cargo as long as they have been subjected to necessary checks. For cargo delivery and evacuation from seaports to be effective, interstate cargo movement by road and rail should not be restricted,” Bello solicited.
Stating that the Council has been inundated with complaints that banks are not offering services with respect to port operations, Bello pointed out that such development would hamper cargo clearance from the ports.
He assured cargo owners that the attention of banks have been drawn to the notice by the Federal Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria, which allows skeletal operations in the financial system during the lockdown, adding that port operation as indicated by the President, is also an essential service.
“Nigeria Shippers’ Council, as Port Economic Regulator is conscious of the fact that obligations, responsibilities, duties and rights may have been frustrated. Therefore, the Council is discussing with all parties so that a balanced solution can be achieved especially on the issue of demurrage and incentives to facilitate the clearance of goods from the ports,” he said.
He stated that buses would be stationed at strategic points including Festac by Apple Junction, Okokomaiko at Alakija under bridge, Surulere by National Stadium, Oshodi at Charity bus stop and Ikeja along bus stop, starting from Wednesday 1st April, 2020 at 8am to ease movement of accredited freight forwarders, who have business to conduct at ports.
“As an intervention, NSC has donated protective gears for port users worth N5 million to be distributed to relevant field and operational staff. The Council also donated the sum of N5 million to be used collectively in the fight against COVID-19 in Lagos and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),” he added.
Iju Tony Nwabunike, national President, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), pointed out that only Customs broker, freight forwarders and haulage operators, who have jobs on the ground that should approach the ports this period of restriction.
He further advised them to always visit the ports with their company identity cards and the NPA port pass to facilitate their movement.