NPA rallies terminal operators on solution to port congestion

Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman (middle), Executive Director, Marine and Operations, NPA, Dr. Sokonte Davies (left) and the President, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Dr. Vicky Haastrup, during an interactive session between the NPA management and the association…in Lagos

 By Chidubem Anthony

Towards a saner and more business-friendly seaports, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, has called on terminal operators, shipping companies, port managers and allied stakeholders to do all they could to eradicate or mitigate the effects of the present congestion at the ports.

Usman, who said the issue of port congestion should concern all, urged concerted efforts at solving the challenge of evacuating empty containers, while enlisting the cooperation of the terminal operators to increase free storage days, waive demurrage for a definite period, and create a window period to accommodate importers’ concerns, among others.

Addressing key stakeholders in Lagos over the weekend, Usman said the meeting followed a directive from the Vice President and Chairman, Ease of Doing Business Council, Yemi Osinbajo, on the need for a lasting solution to the challenge of port congestion.

She stated government’s desire to have things done more smoothly, adding that the NPA would do everything possible to facilitate trade in the maritime sector, according to a statement by the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Adams Jatto.

She also encouraged shipping companies to patronise ports outside Lagos, particularly the Onne Port, just as she informed the terminal operators that the agency was facilitating the use of barges to move cargoes to Ikorodu as part of efforts to decongest the ports.

The other efforts at solving the problem included collaborating with stakeholders to construct access roads in Apapa, encouraging the Dangote Private Jetty project, and promoting intermodal transportation system, among others.

On the concerns raised by some terminal operators that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has not auctioned any cargo at the ports in recent times, Usman appealed to the agency for timely auction of over-time cargo to discourage importers from turning the ports into storage facilities. Likewise, owners of such cargo should be made to remove them immediately.

On behalf of the terminal operators, President of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Mrs. Vicky Haastrup, among many other operators present at the parley, said the measures being taken by the Federal Government would affect their revenue negatively.

However, Usman assured that the measures were subject to review from time to time but necessary to solve the present emergencies.

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