… Donates N5 Million to Lagos, Ogun, FCT
… Offers freight forwarders free bus ride
In a bid to ensure the safety of the freight forwarders and other port users during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (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).
The Management of the Council in a statement in Lagos on Tuesday further said that it was providing buses to and from the ports in order to ease movement of accredited freight forwarders who had business to conduct at the ports as well as other port users.
The buses, according to the statement would leave Festac by Apple junction, Okokomaiko at Alakija under bridge, Surulere by National Stadium, Oshodi at Charity bus stop as well as Ikeja at Ikeja along bus stop at 8am during this period with effect from 1st April, 2020.
The statement reads, “In line with the directives of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari in his nationwide address on 29th March 2020, Nigerian Shippers’ Council identifies with the proactive measures put in place by the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Federal Ministry of Health, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Port Health Services, Security Agencies, etc., to curb and curtail the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus in the country.
“The President has made it clear that ports 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.
“In that regard and to ensure uninterrupted supply of crucial commodities, the following services shall remain open during this period, albeit with minimal operations to enable the ports function, while access will be restricted and closely monitored. The agencies/organizations/services exempted are: 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, 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.
“Notwithstanding the above, field and operational officers as well as essential staff of the above agencies/organizations shall be granted access and freedom of movement to and from the ports, upon presentation of valid means of identification duly issued by the respective agencies, organisations and services listed above.
“Further, these exempted agencies, organizations, services and their personnel must operate in accordance with guidelines issued by health authorities in that regard.”
While noting that this present situation had indeed caused unimaginable disruption of the logistics supply chain, it stated that users and providers of services were seemingly unable to carry out their obligations for reasons beyond their control.
The Statement noted that the Nigeria Shippers’ Council, as Port Economic Regulator and an arbiter, was conscious of the fact that obligations, responsibilities, duties and rights may have been frustrated.
“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 corona virus (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”, it added.
It pointed out that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council had been inundated with complaints that banks were not offering services with respect to port operations which according to it hamper 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.
“Nigerian Shippers’ Council calls for synergy amongst port users and government agencies to support the Federal Government in containing the scourge of the deadly virus while making it possible to sustain port operations during this period”, it said.
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