By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has called for the review of the 14-days quarantine for vessel coming into Nigerian ports as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
President Muhammadu Buhari had directed in March 2020 that only cargo ships that have been at sea for more than 14 days are allowed to dock at the port as part of measures aimed at curtailing the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Chairperson of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) had said at the time that terminal operators would rather prefer that all vessels are allowed to come in as they were, and that only the crew should be quarantined when the vessel is discharged.
This according to the ENL Terminal boss, is to avoid a situation where vessels would be stranded at anchorage.
Already, DAILY TREND NEWS gathered that vessel waiting time at Nigeria anchorage have now increased to fifty days due to the cumbersome processes at the port.
Speaking on Wednesday at a Webinar organised by a Maritime lawyer, Mike Igbokwe (SAN) tagged “Covid-19 And The Nigerian Maritime Sector: Lessons And The Way forward”, NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman supports the position of the terminal operators that vessels should not have to wait for 14 days before coming into the port.
Hadiza said “Some of the submissions that we’ve had from the Presidential Task Force revolve round having vessels wait for 14 days from any country that has above a thousand infections.
“We have been engaging with the Presidential Task Force to review that because we are all within the sub-region. Everywhere indeed have pass those numbers and we cannot keep saying vessels coming from Tema or any neighbouring port need to stay at anchorage for an additional 14 days. This I must say is a big concern that has been on going with the shipping companies”
DAILY TREND NEWS recalls that the STOAN Chairperson, Vicky Haastrup while addressing journalists at the terminal said terminal operators do not have problems with those vessels coming from Europe and Asia because the time it would take for such vessel to arrive Nigerian ports is more than 14-days, under which health status or symptoms must have been identified.
She said the major concern is for vessels coming from West African countries who might not have taken 14- days to arrive Nigerian port.
Notwithstanding, Princess Haastrup advocated that such vessel should be allowed to berth, while the Port Health quarantine the crew, discharging of the cargo can continue.
She said the “The regulation by Mr. President is very important, but what we do know, is that most of the ships coming from Europe, Asia and a whole lot of other countries of the world are already quarantined because of the time it takes them to arrive in Nigeria territorial waters, so I dont think we have problems with vessels coming from these countries”
“The one that we have problems with are those vessels that are coming from West African countries, they would not have observed the fourteen days quarantine time”
“What we expect for such vessels is that they should be allowed to berth naturally, but what we expect the Port health to do is determine the health status of the crew and quarantine them onboard while we go on with the discharge of the vessel”
“If we do this, I don’t think it would cause any problems or much damage to our economy or to the terminal operators”