Nigerian Ports Economic Regulator, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has addressed maritime stakeholders on the state of affairs in shipping amid covid 19 lockdown in Nigeria.
Speaking while addressing maritime stakeholders during a press conference held recently at the agency’s headquarters in Lagos, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Barr Hassan Bello said it was important that all maritime stakeholders know exactly what was going on in the sector so that Nigerian economy will not be unduly adversely affected by the lockdown.
According to Bello, the impact of port activities on the economy, necessitated that the correct state of affairs be communicated to all stakeholders in order not to exacerbate a situation which has the potential to affect the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians.
Speaking further, the NSC boss said, “In its capacity as Port Economic Regulator and Trade Facilitator, Nigerian Shippers’ Council has taken steps to ensure that cargo flow continues.
“As you know, even in the hardest hit countries, port operations have continued without let or hindrance. In an interdependent world, goods continue to move around and the manufacturing of goods cannot be halted otherwise economies would be in bigger trouble than they are set to be as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many essential commodities, particularly drugs, medical equipment and consumables need to be imported by many countries including Nigeria.
“It is against this background that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council stepped up its engagement with port operators by providing transportation to and from the ports daily for freight forwarders during the period if the lockdown. I must remark that response to this service has been encouraging.
“The Council visited some terminals in the course of the week and had very useful discussions with their operators. These discussions have led to the Council intervening on behalf of freight forwarders with banks to extend their services to port operators in order to allow them pay fees to various agencies to facilitate clearance of cargoes from ports.
“We cannot afford to have our terminals clogged up with more uncleared cargoes. We are happy to note that a number of banks have been cooperating at their branches in Apapa to ease transactions for freight forwarders”, he stated.
He listed such banks to include: Zenith, UBA, FCMB and GTBank, adding that discussion continues with other banks to ensure they also begin operations in their Apapa branches.
Speaking further, Bello said, “It gives me great pleasure to report that all stakeholders have been very cooperative in a bid to ensure that activities in the Maritime sector suffer minimum disruption. I note that you have been reporting on yesterday’s meeting with NIMASA. We all recognize that we are all in this together and we hope to emerge stronger at the end of this pandemic.
“Nigerian Shippers’ Council has been engaging the Port Health Services as well, as it works very hard to ensure that port users, and indeed the generality of Nigerians are protected from the virus as essential goods make their way into the country.
“Nigerian Shippers’ Council has made some modest contribution in cash and protective materials towards the fight against COVID-19. However, its most important contribution is in ensuring that it does not drop the ball in terms of its responsibility as Port Economic Regulator in thes very fluid and difficult times. This is why we continue to engage with stakeholders to ensure that the ports run as smoothly as possible under the circumstances.
“I cannot conclude this address without acknowledging the hardwork, commitment and cooperation of the following:
- The Vice President’s team on Post COVID-19 economy
- The Secretary to the Government of the Federation’s Task Force on COVID-19
- The Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwoolu and his COVID-19 team
- The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Kayode Odumosu
- Port Health Services
- And last, but not the least, the brave medical workers, security forces, researchers working all hours to find a vaccine and of course all of you present here today.