19 December 2018, Sweetcrude, Lagos — In a bid to ameliorate the attendant financial burden on importers occasioned by congestion at the ports, the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA has disclosed that from the 18th of this month, rent-free days will be increased to 21 days as against 3 days.
In a statement from the Corporate and Strategic Communication department of the agency, its Managing Director, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman said the rent-free days will be for four months after which a further review will be done to ensure that the ports in Lagos are free from congestion.
Usman also said that the number of days for the return of empty containers have also been increased from five days to 15 days adding that this was done to reduce demurrages on cargoes.
Other measures taken by the NPA to de-congest includes immediate deployment of Sweeper vessels by shipping companies to evacuate empty containers from the port to clear the backlog of empty containers littering the country within four (4) months.
The Authority encourages the use of Onne Ports for such sweeper vessels.
Usman also urged the Nigerian Customs Service to immediately commence the process of auctioning of overtime cargoes noting that this is imperative as the ports are meant to be a transit and not storage facilities.
She explained that these actions 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.
The NPA boss also said that 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.
According to her, 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 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.
She disclosed that NPA will consider some operational charges as the Authority recognises the financial implications of these policies on the terminal operators and shipping companies.