In order to reduce the attendant financial burden that the congestion at the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports has brought on importers, the Nigerian Ports Authority has announced a change in operations at the ports.
A statement by the authority said with effect from Tuesday, December 18, there will be an increase in rent-free period for cargoes housed in the terminals.
The statement said that the rent-free period would increase from the current period of three free days before commencement of rent charges to 21 free days before commencement of rent charges. This will last for four months.
“With effect from Tuesday, December 18, 2018, there will be an increase in the demurrage free period on return of empty containers from the current 5 days period to 15 days for a period of four (4) months,” the statement said.
“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. The Authority encourages the use of Onne Ports for such sweeper vessels.
“The Nigerian Customs Service is urged to immediately commence the process of auctioning of overtime cargoes. This is imperative as the ports are meant to be 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.”
The NPA said that terminal operators are 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 measures, the statement added, are emergency steps taken to immediately reduce the financial burden of congestion on citizens. It added that permanent measures put in place to resolve the congestion include reconstruction of the port access road, the provision of a 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 NPA says it recognises the financial implications of these policies on the terminal operators and shipping companies and will consider a shift in its operational charges to ameliorate the situation of stakeholders.