By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Shippers Council and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has sent a warning to freight forwarders that, only essential cargoes would be cleared at the ports for now, due to the lockdown to contain spread of Coronavirus.
Both agencies collaborated to organise a press conference and stakeholders meeting in Apapa yesterday and reiterated that luxury goods would only be cleared after the lockdown have been lifted.
Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council, Barr Hassan Bello observed that even in hard hit countries by Coronavirus, port operations have continued without hindrance.
He said that essential commodities such as drugs, medical equipment and consumables need to be imported and cleared from the port.
Bello however sent a strict warning to freight forwarders saying that “If you dont have business to do at the port, please dont come out, stay in your house. Today when I came to Apapa, I was surprised at the number of vehicles I saw, it seems there has been no lockdown, this is very wrong, people must stay at home, except it is essential, please dont come out”
The Shippers Council boss also said that he has been interfacing with the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Odumosu over some freight forwarders that were arrested on their way to the port. According to him, the freight forwarders have now been released.
Bello said the outbreak of the Coronavirus has further shown the need for electronic transactions at Nigerian ports, he said the ports needs to have a national single window where agencies would be talking to each other.
He also said that truck drivers going to to port to pick essential cargoes must also practice neccessary health guidelines.
He informed that the NSC will take stricter observation of people who come to the ports by the buses provided by the council.
Also speaking, Registrar of the Council for the Regulations of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Barr Samuel Nwakohu noted that only freight forwarders who have essential goods to clear at the port would be allowed to clear goods while those with luxury goods will have to wait until the lock down is over.
Nwakohu informed that there are presently six banks in operations for freight forwarders who needs to clear their essential goods.
In his words “The primary aim of the government as it stands today is to look after our health, and that is why they have taking all the steps they have taken.
“It’s not business as usual, I said to my freight forwarders, after today, the executive secretary and I will approach the customs, the goods that will be cleared will be only those who have essential goods, if you have luxury goods you will have to wait until the shut down is over.
“Let me also state that you cannot clear goods whether it is luxury items or essential items if the banks are not there to provide services.
“As at today we have six of them Zenith Bank, UBA bank, First Bank, FCMB, GTB with the names of their staff so that you can call them” he said.
Critical stakeholders present at the meeting included President of ANLCA, Hon Tony Iju Nwabunike, Founder of NAGAFF, Dr Boniface Aniebonam, President of Shippers Association Lagos State, Rev Jonathan Nicol, Vice President of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto, NAGAFF President, Increase Uche, AMARTO Chairman, Chief Remi Ogungbemi.
Others are; President of NAFAC, Mr. Yinka Bakare, Chief Austen Kelly and former commissioner of transport Lagos State, Comrade Kayode Opeifa.