Covid-19: Port Health Beam Searchlights On Vessels arriving from Brazil, South Africa, India

Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers' Council handing over the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) to Dr. Geoffrey Okatubo Director, Port Health Services in Abuja.

…Shippers Council’s NPPM Gains Momentum

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The Director, Port Health Services (PHS), Dr. Geoffrey Okatubo has revealed that due to the emergence of the new strain of the Covid-19 virus, special attention is now being given to vessels arriving from Brazil, South Africa and India.

Dr Okatubo stated this when the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Office of the Council, Mr. Hassan Bello paid a working visit to the agency in Abuja.

In a press statement issued on Friday by Mrs Rakiya Yagboyaju, Head of Public Relations of Nigerian Shippers Council the visit by the council was part of efforts to implement the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM) through collaborations with other sister agencies.

Speaking at the event, Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Office of the Council, Mr. Hassan Bello emphasized the need to clean up the ports by embracing orderliness, efficiency and zero corruption.

He described the NPPM as a useful and important manual that all relevant agencies in the port system should abide by.

He stated that since doing business at the ports is tied to time, there PHS is a need for the Port Health Services, as the first agency to interact with vessels and crew, to reduce the time spent onboard, by performing their inspection between 30 – 45 minutes with a maximum of 3 officers.

Mr. Bello added that the turnaround time for ships can also be reduced through a pre-arrival communication between the vessels and the PHS, so that every activity performed on arrival of vessels on Nigeria’s shores would be for verification alone.

The ES stated that one area of concern that enables corrupt practices at the ports is vessel agents offering transportation to inspecting agencies. This, he noted should be provided by government or the PHS.

While encouraging the PHS to reach out to the NSC with any issue, Mr. Bello suggested that the PHS publish infractions committed by vessels calling at Nigerian ports.

Responding, the Director, Port Health Services, Dr. Geoffrey Okatubo, congratulated the NSC on its appointment by the Federal Government as the lead agency to coordinate and supervise the implementation of the NPPM.

Regarding the 30 – 45 minutes vessel inspection, he stated that as long as there is no issue with a ship, it is achievable.

However, he explained, inspections can take longer than 45 minutes because of the peculiarities of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has given rise to more activities on board vessels. These include checking the temperature and Polymerase Chain Reaction ( PCR) Covid-19 test of the entire crew.

He added that the PHS is working towards publishing penalties for infractions and is also solidly behind the Council, in the performance of its roles and responsibilities.

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