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 months.

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 consignee.

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.