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Port Congestion: NPA strategizes to ease burden on importers

…Urges Customs Service to auction overtime cargoes at port

The MD Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has come up
with a new strategy to address the burden on importers caused by congestion at
the Apapa and Tincan Island Ports in Lagos.

In a statement, the NPA announced that
effective from Dec. 18, 2018, the rent-free period for cargoes housed in the
terminals would increase from three free days to 21 free days before
commencement of rent charges for a period of four months.

The NPA also stated that effective from Dec.
18, 2018, the demurrage free period on return of empty containers would
increase from the current five days period to 15 days for a period of four

It directed that Shipping Companies should
immediately deploy sweeper vessels to evacuate empty containers from the Port
to clear the backlog of empty containers littering the country within four (4)
months, while it encouraged the use of Onne Ports for such sweeper vessels.

The NPA also urged the Nigerian Customs
Service to immediately commence the process of auctioning of overtime cargoes.

On that issue, the NPA said it was imperative
because the Ports are meant to be transit and not storage facilities, as it
advised that the auctions be carried out on the spot at Port locations and
every buyer should be given a stipulated short period to evacuate the cargoes
out of the Ports after which they would be re-auctioned.

Terminal operators were, however, encouraged
to negotiate and grant waivers to consignees to facilitate the evacuation of
these cargoes to mitigate against the auctioning which would result in a total
loss of revenue by the terminal operator and the loss of cargo by the

The NPA stated further that the measures were emergency
steps taken to immediately reduce the financial burden of congestion on
citizens as the Federal Government proceeds to permanently resolve the
congestion through the following: reconstruction of the Port access road, the
provision of trailer park and holding bays with e-call up system, the
enhancement of cargo evacuation using rail transportation and inland waterways
with barges among others.

The Authority said it recognizes the financial
implications of these policies on the terminal operators and shipping companies
and would consider a shift in its operational charges to improve the situation
of stakeholders.

Thanking the stakeholders for their
cooperation, the NPA pledged to address the congestion at both ports.

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