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Assessing Lagos ports’ performance is virus times

Assessing Lagos ports’ performance is virus times

To ensure that the Lagos ports users did not disregard the regulations imposed by the Federal Government for checking the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the lockdown, the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) implemented a multi-layer strategy to keep the Lagos seaports and its environ safe, it was learnt.

Stakeholders, who spoke with The Nation, said there were strict adherence to the guidelines to stop the transmission of the virus.

Assessing the NPA, NSC and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), a maritime lawyer, Dr Dipo Alaka, said the management of the three agencies performed well.

Sources at the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMoT) and Alaka said the agencies used intelligence and a risk-based strategy to get information on cargoes before they landed at Lagos port. They ensured that the cargoes that are identified as high-risk were inspected by the health officials.

Another maritime lawyer, Mr Fola Ashade said, the officials of the agencies collaborated with the Customs and other agencies to assess the security of the ports in accordance with the guidelines of the Federal Government, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the NCDC.

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Ashade said the NPA and the NSC, apart from providing robust palliatives to port users and operators, the management of the two agencies, moved outside the box to ensure that the economy is not locked down

“Going by the Federal Government directive that the ports must remain open in spite of the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) made efforts and worked tirelessly to make the ports attractive for business.”

An importer, Mr Adeyinka Agboke, added: “To achieve a seamless port operation during the lockdown, the Shippers Council and the NPA negotiated the suspension and non- payment of demurrage and storage charges.

“Apart from several stakeholders’engagement, the Shippers Council provided buses to convey port users and clearing agents for free from various locations across Lagos State.

“ The NSC also assigned some of its senior staff members despite the rampaging plague to work at various terminals to ensure that safety and healthy regulations are observed.

The Shippers Council and the NPA also brokered a meeting with terminal operators, Manufacturers Association of Nigerian (MAN), Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), freight forwarders, NACCIMA and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to ensure the commencement of evacuation of cargoes by rail from the port.

“Before the government thought of easing the lockdown, every terminal within the port facility was required to establish and implement a comprehensive security plan that outlines procedures for controlling access to the facility, verifying credentials of port workers, inspecting cargo for tampering, designating security responsibilities, training, and reporting of all breaches of security or suspicious activity, among other security measures.

Working with other and law enforcement agencies, the NSC, in collaboration with the NPA and NIMASA, reviews, approves, assesses and inspects these plans and facilities to ensure compliance,” Agbokre said.

To participate at meetings hosted by the NSC, each agency is expected to establish a risk management system to identify potentially high-risk cargoes, and automate their system.

The system also include a mechanism for validating threat assessments and targeting decisions and identifying best practices.

The agencies were also committed to sharing critical data, intelligence, and risk management information with the Customs and and other security agencies in the ports to do collaborative targeting, and developing an automated mechanism for these exchanges.

They agreed to conduct a port assessment to ascertain vulnerable links in a port’s infrastructure and commit to resolving those vulnerabilities and maintain integrity programmes to prevent lapses in employee integrity and to identify and combat breaches in integrity.

Terminal operators’ efforts

A frontline Roll-On-Roll Off vehicle terminal at ports, PTML Terminal and its shipping arm, Grimaldi Shipping Nigeria also offered importers and their freight forwarders a special concession on all-long standing imported vehicles within the terminal.

Spokesman of ANLCA at PTML Chapter, Comrade Ayokunle Sulaiman commended them, saying that clearing agents have started taking advantage of the waiver. “This is a good gesture from GrimaldiShipping, “ he said.

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