The Nigerian Shippers Council has announced the deployment of its staff to all seaport terminals in order to ensure stricken adherence to safety and health guidleines so as to prevent the spread of Coronavirus pandemic.
Findings by DAILY TREND NEWS showed that terminals were not complying with the social distancing directive of the government in preventing spread of COVID-19.
At some terminals in Lagos, over 500 freight forwarders were seen clustering together, while at the shipping companies, only official was seen attending to about 300 freight forwarders struggling to get their shipping documents approved.
Apparently in reaction to these, the Nigerian Shippers Council said it is importance for all port
users, particularly freight forwarders to conduct themselves responsibly and adhering to health guidelines as they go about their very essential business.
“In view of the importance of the continuation of port operations as essential services which was highlighted by President Muhammadu Buhari in his March 29 address, Nigerian Shippers’ Council has been engaging with all stakeholders under its purview to ensure that safety and health guidleines are strictly adhered to so as to prevent the spread of COVID-19”
“To this end, the Council has assigned its officers to the various shipping companies and terminals to assist in ensuring that all safety and health regulations issued by the authorities are strictly adhered to during these times”
Meanwhile, the Council at the weekend directed shipping companies to suspend demurrage charges during the period of COVID-19 lockdown.
In a statement issued on Friday, the management of NSE explained that the suspension applies to cargo that is discharged at the terminals from March 30.
The statement read:“In line with the presidential directive that port operations are essential services, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has been monitoring activities to ensure that seaports run efficiently and smoothly within the present circumstances, and in compliance with the existing health and safety guidelines for the prevention and containment of the spread of COVID-19
“During the daily monitoring exercise, it was observed that some shippers, through no fault of theirs, are unable to take delivery of their cargo because of lack of public transportation, inadequate banking services and limited service providers due to reduced workforce, etc.
“Based on the forgoing, Nigerian Shippers’ Council has directed shipping companies to suspend demurrage charges during the period of the COVID-19 lockdown with effect from 30th March 2020. This strictly applies to cargo that was discharged at the terminals from the 30th of March 2020
“To this end, demurrage charges during this period should be refunded to the consignee or his authorized agent. Suspension of demurrage during this period is an incentive for owners of cargo to accelerate the process of taking delivery of their cargo.
“This suspension of demurrage charges is not an excuse to delay or abandon cargo at the ports. Erring shippers will be sanctioned in addition to having to pay the demurrage due on their cargoes”.