By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) has kicked against plans by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to start diverting vessels from Lagos to Eastern ports due to the existing cargo congestion at the Lagos ports.
President of SALS, Rev Jonathan Nicole in an exclusive chat with DAILY TREND NEWS on Friday said the decision by NPA would lead to additional cost of clearing the cargo for shippers and it would increase the cost of doing business.
The NPA had announced earlier on Friday that as from 27th of January 2020, any vessel that has waited to berth at any terminal within the Lagos Pilotage District for four days without space will be diverted to other terminals with capacity to berth vessels within the district or to the Eastern ports.
In a statement signed by the General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications Department of NPA, Eng Adams Jatto, the decision was taken in response to the recent increase in the waiting time of vessels calling at the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa
Jatto said the directive was given after NPA has met with shipping companies and terminal operators and that the decision is aimed at immediately resolving the congestion in the Lagos Pilotage District.
He said “The Authority will liaise with other relevant government agencies on behalf of stakeholders to expedite the clearance of vessels and cargoes, where necessary”
“These actions have been taken to promote the Ease of Doing Business Policy of the Federal Government and curtail the negative economic impact that the long turnaround time of vessels has on stakeholders”
“We solicit the cooperation of all stakeholders”
Apparently, the NPA may not have carried along the Nigerian shippers who would be paying the additional cost attached to clearing of the cargo.
Speaking with our correspondent, Rev Nicole said the NPA’s decision is a clear declaration of a State of Emergency at Nigerian ports.
“This is an indirect way of declaring a state of emergency at the port, because if my Bill of Laden says Apapa port and you are now moving my cargo to Port Harcourt without my consent, that is a partial state of emergency, the NPA should just declare it so that everybody would know that we are grounded”
“My destination port is Apapa, and I probably have made all preparation to clear my goods at Apapa, if you now move it to Port Harcourt port, who pays for the transport? The transport fare from Port Harcourt to Lagos now cannot be determined, the price is increasing daily”
“So what is the usefulness of importing cargo if you cannot get little profit on it? It means that the cost of bringing the cargo has been defeated because you don’t have control of expenses and this is bad”
“It is an additional cost of clearing the cargo for the shipper and this would eventually be thrown on the open market, God help you if these goods are not already in the market because you won’t be able to sell it”
“The smugglers still know how to manage their way into system despite the border closure” he said