Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA has re-stated that the decision to divert vessels which have waited to berth at any terminal within the Lagos Pilotage District to other terminals with capacity to berth Vessels within the District is not a unilateral decision.
The General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Engr. Jatto Adams who made this clear in an interview with our correspondent said the clarification has become necessary in view of the reports pubished by some media organisations that purporting that NPA gave a directive for the diversion of vessels to Eastern Ports.
Engr. Jato explained that the decision was unanimous hence a fallout from the meeting the Agency had with Shipping Companies and Terminal Operators in response to the recent increase in the waiting period of vessels at the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa.
“The terminal operators and Shipping companies were there during the meeting. They were part of the meeting. The decision was not a unilateral decision on the part of NPA. The decision was that of the terminal operators and shipping companies. You know, it is not also all terminals, rather the affected terminal operators and shipping lines,he opined
He further disclosed that the decision reached to also divert the vessels to
Eastern Ports was in the worst senero, whereby the ports here have no other space .
“We held a meeting and looked at the best option. You can as well decide that I want my vessel to stay upward of 3weeks or more. What are the implications?
“And we decided that the best option we have is that if you have a ship that is coming in , and there is a space in TCIC, and we have agreed that the ship will go in there and discharge the Cargos.
“So it in the worst scenero that we to move them to the Eastern Ports were the Ports there have no space. When it gets to that stage, you go to the East. But we are trying as much as possible to ensure we don’t get to that stage, but if not the option is to start going to the East. And the measure is not a punitive one but to ensure that the ports are decongested, but we don’t have to allow the congestion, after all, people have been asking us to see a way of sending cargos to East. We are not doing that as a punitive measure”, he stated.
The NPA image maker pointed out that the measure was to ensure that the ports are decongested and not a punitive measure as was alleged by some stakeholders.
On the implementation of the decision which took off on 27th January,2020 , Engr. Jato said,” the shipping lines are aware, the terminal operators are aware. Those ones that are there now, as soon as we have a space, and Hiif we don’t have a space in Lagos Ports, that is, AP Mollar Terminals, you go to TinCan. Our harbor Masters are there. They have to look at it and ensure that they follow the directive”.
It would be recalled that NPA, in a bid to tackle Port Congestion and to promote ease of doing business policy of the Federal Government as well as curtail the negative economic impact the turnaround time of Vessels has on stakeholders , resolved in a meeting with Shipping Companies and Terminal Operators on diversion of Vessels which have waited to berth and cannot discharge their vessels within four days , to Eastern ports..
This did not go down well with Shippers Association of Lagos State as they kicked against the decision, describing it as a clear declaration of state of emergency at the Nigerian Ports, as well as arguing that it would not only lead to additional cost on cargo clearance for Shippers, but also increase cost of doing business.
On his part, the president of Igbo Maritime Association, Airport Chapter, Chief U. D Nwosu doubted the implementation of this decision by NPA, stressing that it was not the first time such decisions were taken without full implementation.
He advised that NPA should always call for a meeting of the Stakeholders before such decision could be reached and directive given.
On the Apapa road traffic gridlock and way out, Jato said,”work is going on and until it is completed. We are equally looking at the issue of rail transport. It is only when it is connected, that’s when you can have relief on that. And of course, the management has gone as far as partnering with the Ogun State Government to ensure we have trailer park outside Lagos.
“And very soon, Lillypond park will be handed over to a private company to run. These are the efforts being made by the management of NPA to reduce the gridlock”.