The Nigerian Shippers’ Council has restated its commitment to ensure smooth port operations for stakeholders despite the Coronavirus pandemic across the globe.

To that effect, the Council is providing buses to and from the seaports. The buses will leave designated locations at 8am (Local time) during this lockdown period with effect from 1st April, 2020.

The route includes; Festac (by Apple junction) Okokomaiko (at Alakija under bridge)
Surulere (by National Stadium) , Oshodi (at Charity bus stop) and Ikeja(at Ikeja along bus stop).

According to a statement signed by management of the council, those expected to benefit from the exercise include agencies of government and port users.

Giving a breakdown of the stakeholders, the port regulator mentioned the following; Nigeria Customs Service; Nigerian Ports Authority; Nigerian Shippers’ Council; Nigerian Railway Corporation; (Freight services), National Inland Waterways Authority; Port Health Services; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency; National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.

Others are; Standards Organisation of Nigeria; National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency; All Seaport Terminal Operators; Shipping Lines/Agencies; Dock Workers; Stevedores; Freight Forwarding Services; Cargo De-consolidators; Barge Operators; Marine and Port Police; Cargo Truck Drivers; Banks; and any other service user or provider at the ports.

The Council said it has been inundated with complaints that banks are not offering services with respect to port operations pointing out that this, ”without doubt, hampers cargo clearance from the ports.

“The attention of the banks is, therefore, drawn to the Notice by the Federal Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria, which allows operations in the financial system. We note that port operations as indicated by the President are essential and critical services.”

The economic port regulatory agency also called for synergy amongst port users and government agencies to support the Nigerian Government in containing the scourge of the deadly virus while making it possible to sustain port operations during this period.

Donation of protective gears
As an intervention, the Council also donated protective gears for port users worth N5m to be distributed to relevant field and operational staff.

“The Council also donates the sum of N5,000,000.00 to be used collectively in the fight against COVID-19 in Lagos and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“In addition, in order to ease movement of accredited freight forwarders who have business to conduct at the ports and other port users, Nigerian Shippers’ Council is providing buses to and from the ports. The buses will leave the following locations at 8am during this period with effect from 1st April, 2020.

“Therefore, Nigerian Shippers’ Council is discussing with all parties so that a balanced solution can be achieved especially the issue of demurrage and incentives to facilitate the clearance of goods from the ports.

“The devastating effect of the COVID-19 has made it mandatory for these restrictions which we believe are critical to the reduction of transmission of the disease so that health professionals can cope with the challenge,” the Council explained.

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