The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman last Friday said that the agency will begin to sanction any shipping company who fails to provide empty container holding bay for use by stakeholders within the next seven days.
Usman who made this disclosure at a two-day stakeholders’ meeting held in Lagos, also said that the agency would equally commence sanction within seven days for any terminal operator that was conniving with shipping companies to provide an avenue for huge amount of demurrage within the ports.
The MD who was emphatic on the defiant attitude in this regard by the Managements of the AP Moller Terminal (APMT) and Maersk Line warned that having exhausted and talked about this for a long time, they (APMT/Maersk Line) would no longer hold Nigerians ransom adding that their defiance was completely unacceptable.
In her words,” Regarding Maersk Line and APMT, you know, we have exhausted and talked about this for a long time, so, you will not hold us ransom, it is completely unacceptable. Whatever racket you think you are running, that racket has to come to an end.
All shipping companies will sign of the locations where their holding bays are and as suggested by the Nigeria Customs Service, you publish so that everybody knows it and if people go there and you do not have holding bays, you lied and you signed, it is your integrity that is on the line.
“So, I have a list here which has the location of all the supposed holding bays with their capacity and I required for all the shipping companies to sign off. Nobody will destroy our trust because they think they are going to make money, it is not possible. So, any sanction that is required for Maersk Line and APMT, GM Marine and Operation should bring me something less, I will not accept that.
“Any shipping company or terminal operator that thinks that he can run any kind of racket, I will not accept it and if it will require that we withdraw service from APMT, we will do it. We should not be having this discussion back and forth.
“So, I am giving you a marching order, all shipping companies will sign this, if you don’t have holding bay, go and find it. We will not keep talking about all of this. So, I have said it, anyone that is not ready to comply, we are going to take serious action”.
She continued,” We have noticed an attendance issue around demurrage; we have noticed that some shipping companies and terminal operators have some arrangement where there is huge demurrage that consumers have to pay. So, we have said that that is completely unacceptable hence we are going to commence sanctioning within seven days for any terminal operator that is conniving with shipping companies to provide an avenue for huge amount of demurrage within the ports.
“We look as sanction withdrawal of service from the shipping company. Any shipping company that fails to comply with the utilization of empty container holding bays will be sanctioned and services will be withdrawn from the shipping company and they will not have access into the Nigerian waterways.
“The empty containers that plying the road will be taken to the empty containers holding bays; they will no longer be on the road, the ones inside the ports, the terminal operators are in discussions with our people on what needs to be done to have them shipped out. You know the concerns they have raised, they need to have laddened containers being taken out of the country. As the Nigerian Government keeps emphasizing on agriculture, we believe that there will be more laddened containers that will be taken out of the Nigerian ports”.
Fielding questions from the journalist on the sidelines of the meeting, the NPA boss revealed that two shipping companies had been sanctioned already for not having holding bay at all saying, ”MSC shipping that do not have any holding bay at all, they were sanctioned for not having holding bay, so attributable to compliance that will be until next week”.
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