…Donates N10 million to fight against Covid-19
By Kenneth Jukpor
The skeletal operations of commercial banks may not be sufficient for seamless port operations under the 14 days lockdown as Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has been inundated with complaints that banks are not offering services with respect to port operations.
Shippers’ Council has observed the need for full operations of banks at the ports, noting that the minimal services secured by the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would not be sufficient for port operations.
While Lagos ports remain open as directed by President Mohammadu Buhari, movement in the State has been ceased as part of efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the nation. This, without doubt, hampers cargo clearance from the ports.
It should be noted that the operations allowed in the financial system are restricted to online transactions and use of Automated Teller Machines (ATM).
NSC revealed this in a press release yesterday which also disclosed that the agency has donated N10million to support the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in the nation.
“As an intervention, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), has donated protective gears for port users worth N5million to be distributed to relevant field and operational staff. The Council also donates the sum of N5million to be used collectively in the fight against Covid-19 in Lagos and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)”, the report said.
As part of efforts to aid movement of relevant port sector stakeholders during this lockdown, the Council also will provide free buses from major points in Lagos to the ports.
The free transportation commences today, leaving the approved take-off points by 8am daily. Buses will leave the following locations during this period with effect from 1st April, 2020: 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).
Shippers’ Council also 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.
Noting that the President made it clear that ports stay operational, the Council stressed that 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 Council also reiterated the President’s directive that there should be movement of cargoes as long as they have been subjected to necessary checks.
According to Shippers’ Council, for cargo delivery and evacuation from seaports to be effective, interstate cargo movement by road and rail should not be restricted.
The Council highlighted port stakeholders whose services are essential and should be Exempted from the lockdown to include: 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; 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, however, urged the organisations and services providers listed above to operate in accordance with guidelines issued by health authorities which are critical to the reduction of transmission of the disease.