By Oyeniyi Iwakun
Two shipping companies; Maesk line and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) have been suspended from operations and others services in Nigeria by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) with effect from Thursday 8, February 2017.
The NPA Managing Director, Ms Hadiza Usman disclosed to MMS Plus during a stakeholders meeting on Friday 9th, February 2018 that the sanction became necessary when it was realized that the shipping companies had no holding bay.
Ms Hadiza hinted that some key decisions were taken at the Friday stakeholders meeting in ensuring compliance by shipping companies on the utilization of empty container bays for easy access to the ports. She said any company that refuses to comply with the rules within the given seven days ultimatum risks sanctioning, withdrawal of services and non access to Nigerian waterways.
“we have noticed an attendant issue around demurrage. We have observed that some terminal operators and shipping companies have some arrangements where there is huge demurrage that consumers have to take on. This is unacceptable to us and we are going to commence sanctioning within seven days.
“Shipping companies discovered to have no holding bays have been sanctioned but sanctions attributable to compliance will be till next week” she said
“The empty containers that are plying the road will be taken into the holding bays and as for those inside the ports, the terminal operators are in talks with our people on what needs to be done to have them shipped out and as the Nigerian government improves on agriculture we believe that that there will be more container laden taken out of the country ports.
The meeting which had in attendance various maritime stakeholders including freight forwarders, shipping companies, terminal operators, customs, and other regulatory agencies brainstormed on possible ameliorations to illegal tariffs, extortions and other bottlenecks at the nation’s ports.
Also at the centre of discussion was the need to effectively utilize barges and railway in the movement of cargoes into and outside the ports.
Ms Hadiza said NPA had launched the use of barges for the movement of cargoes from Ikorodu and all agencies of government have been called upon to provide necessary support required even as she explained that truck movement wouldn’t be at peak hours to avoid congestions.
The NPA boss also explained that the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) had been working assiduously towards what could be done in immediate terms to ensure that there are cargo evacuations from the ports using the railway but there are still some measures needed to be perfected for seamlessness in the activities.
“Some terminal operators have expressed concerns about the sequencing of using the railway and we are going to develop a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) between NRC, NPA and Terminal operators on how we can utilize the movement of cargoes via rail locations and barges.
Speaking on developments on Tin-can Island port road, she said NPA is prioritizing road construction hence NPA’s request to the federal ministry of transportation to facilitate formal request for NPA to take over the reconstruction of the Tin-can Island expressway.
She said “we believe that the funding of the construction can be sourced from NPA and to be considered as part of our contributions to CRF fund. Last year, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) declared revenue of N1trillion while NPA declared N299.8Billion naira and 70% of these revenues are generated from the western ports, so we believe this port should be prioritized in terms of infrastructure requirements. If the federal ministry of works has not been able to prioritize the construction of these roads, the federal ministry of transportation through the NPA is ready to take over the responsibility”
Reacting to the development, the National Publicity Secretary of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto, opined that the sanction melted against the shipping companies is timely even as he commended the NPA managing director for giant step taken in restoring sanity to the polity.
He said “it is a welcome development; at least they will know that we are serious in our country. These are the shipping companies that have been proving that they are powerfully connected and that is why they are flouting our laws. This will make everybody sit up. It is a pointer to the fact that nobody is above the law.”
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