Following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and FCT by the federal government, a maritime industry based research centre, the Sea Empowerment and Research Centre has released its findings on the level of compliance to the UNCTAD technical note on port responsiveness in the fight against the ‘invisible’ threat Covid-19 at the Lagos ports.
In a statement in Lagos on Monday, the Director General of the Centre, Mr. Francis Uchechukwu Aniezechukwu pointed out that the research findings so released was aimed at drawing the attention of the various port regulatory agencies namely; the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and other port users to the level of compliance to the UNCTAD technical note.
Explaining further, Aniezechukwu observed that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) technical note; port responsiveness in the fight against the ‘invisible’ threat; Covid-19 included; respect physical distancing rules – stay 12 meters apart, increase the use of digital documentation to limit human contact to the minimum as well as provide adequate and sufficient protective equipment to staff (face masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, glasses).
Others according to him included; augment sanitation of surfaces that come in contact with hands, establish a point of control in the perimeter of the port area to monitor temperature and related symptoms (automated temperature screening) and equip it with anti-bacterial solutions and sanitizers, establish a waste disposal policy for “suspicious” cases and fumigate and disinfect all passenger terminals/areas.
The research findings which covered from April 6th to April 10th, 2020 also x-rayed the level of compliance of the port users and port regulatory agencies to social distancing, use of digital documentation, safety and protective equipment as well as fumigation and disinfecting of offices at Apapa port, Tincan Island port, PTML terminal and Kirikiri Lighter terminal.
According to Aniezechukwu, while the level of adherence to social distancing, use of digital documentation, safety and protective equipment and fumigation and disinfecting of offices ranked 65 percent, 50 percent, 40 percent and 60 percent respectively in Customs, terminal, government agencies and freight forwarders’ offices at Apapa port, it was 70 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent and 55 percent respectively at Tincan Island port.
He noted that whereas the level of adherence to social distancing, use of digital documentation, safety and protective equipment and fumigation and disinfecting of offices is 72 percent, 75 percent, 70 percent and 60 percent at PTML terminal, it was 62 percent, 50 percent, and 60 percent respectively at the Kirikiri Lighter terminal.
On the level of adherence to social distancing, use of digital documentation, safety and protective equipment as well as fumigation and disinfecting of terminals and port areas, the Director General stated that while it was 0.60 percent, 0.10 percent, 0.20 percent and 0.10 percent for Apapa port, it was 0.50 percent, 0.40 percent, 0.30 percent and 0.40 percent respectively for Tincan Island port.
He maintained that whereas the PTML terminal recorded 100 percent, 0.20 percent, 0.60 percent and 0.80 percent in the level of adherence to social distancing, use of digital documentation, safety and protective equipment as well as fumigation and disinfecting of terminals and port areas respectively, Kirikiri Lighter terminal recorded 0.20 percent, 0.40 percent, 0.10 percent and 0.50 percent respectively.
He therefore summarized by saying that the adherence to UNCTAD Technical Note Port Responsiveness in the fight against the ‘invisible’ threat Covid-19 was adhered to majorly in offices with gross neglect at operational terminals and port surroundings.
He equally quoted paragraph 32 and 33 of the President Muhammadu Buhari speech on the 13th April, 2020 thus; “The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has informed me that a large proportion of new infections are now occurring in our communities through person to person contacts. So, we must pay attention to the danger of close contact between person to person.
“At this point, I will remind all Nigerians to continue to take responsibility for the recommended measures to prevent the transmission including maintaining physical distancing, personal hygiene and staying at home.”
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