FOLLOWING the congestion crippling port activities at the nation’s seaports, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has extended free storage and demurrage periods at the ports, thereby assuring terminal operators and shipping companies of a possible shift in government operational charges to ameliorate the situation of the lessees.
According to a statement signed on Wednesday by the General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communication of the NPA, Adams Jatto, the steps were taken in order to reduce the attendant financial burden that the congestion at the Apapa and Tin Can Island Port has brought on importers.
“With effect from Tuesday, December 18, 2018, there will be an increase in rent-free period for cargoes housed in the terminals from the current period of three free days before commencement of rent charges to 21 free days before commencement of rent charges for a period of four months.
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“With effect from Tuesday, December 18, 2018, there will be an increase in the demurrage free period on the return of empty containers from the current 5 days period to 15 days for a period of four months.
“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 months. The Authority encourages the use of Onne Ports for such sweeper vessels.
“The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is urged to immediately commence the process of auctioning of overtime cargoes. This is imperative as the Ports are meant to be a transit and not storage facilities. These auctions should be carried out on the spot at Port locations and every buyer would be given a stipulated short period to evacuate the cargoes out of the Ports after which they will be re-auctioned.
“Terminal operators are however encouraged to negotiate and grant waivers to consignees to facilitate the evacuation of these cargoes to mitigate against the auctioning which will result in a total loss of revenue by the terminal operator and the loss of cargo by the consignee.
“The Authority wishes to state that these measures are 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 recognizes the financial implications of these policies on the terminal operators and shipping companies and will consider a shift in our operational charges to ameliorate the situation of stakeholders.
“The Authority thanks all stakeholders for their cooperation as we seek to put an end to the congestion at the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports,” the NPA stated.