The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) have informed freight forwarders that, only essential cargoes would be cleared at the ports, while the lockdown period to contain the spread of Coronavirus lasts.
Both agencies indicated this in a jointly organised media briefing marking a new collaboration between stakeholders in Apapa on Friday.
The duo pointedly remarked that all luxury goods would be cleared after the lockdown have been lifted.
Emphasizing this further, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council, Barr. Hassan Bello stated that even in hard-hit countries by Coronavirus, port operations have continued without hindrance.
He said that essential commodities such as drugs, medical equipment, and consumables need to be imported and cleared from the port.
Bello, however, sent a strict warning to freight forwarders saying that “If you don’t have business to do at the port, please don’t come out, stay in your house.
“Today, when I came to Apapa, I was surprised at the number of vehicles I saw, it seems there has been no lockdown, this is very wrong, people must stay at home, except it is essential, please don’t come out”, Barrister Bello said, adding that he has been interfacing with the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Odumosu over some freight forwarders that were arrested on their way to the port.
According to him, the freight forwarders have now been released.
Bello maintained that the outbreak of the Coronavirus has further shown the need for electronic transactions at Nigerian ports, stressing that the ports need to have a national single window, where agencies would be talking to each other.
He insisted that truck drivers going to ports to pick essential cargoes must also practice necessary health guidelines.
Also read: OPEIFA: Prioritise Social Distancing or force Government into total lockdown
He highlighted that the NSC will henceforth take stricter observation of people who come to the ports by the buses provided by the council.
In his contribution, the Registrar of the Council for the Regulations of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Barr. Samuel Nwakohu reiterated that only freight forwarders who have essential goods to clear at the port would be allowed to clear goods while those with luxury goods will have to wait until the lockdown is over.
Registrar of CRFFN, Barr Samuel Nwakohu informed that there are presently six banks in operations for freight forwarders who need to clear their essential goods.
In his words “The primary aim of the government as it stands today is to look after our health, and that is why they have to take all the steps they have taken.
“It’s not business as usual, I said to my freight forwarders, after today, the Executive Secretary and I will approach the Customs; the goods that will be cleared will be only those who have essential goods. If you have luxury goods, you will have to wait until the shut down is over.
“Let me also state that you cannot clear goods whether it is luxury items or essential items if the banks are not there to provide services.
“As at today we have six of them Zenith Bank, UBA bank, First Bank, FCMB, GTB with the names of their staff so that you can call them,” he said.
Critical stakeholders present at the meeting included President of ANLCA, Tony Iju Nwabunike, Founder of NAGAFF, Dr Boniface Aniebonam, President of Shippers Association Lagos State, Rev Jonathan Nicol, Vice President of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto, NAGAFF President, Increase Uche and AMARTO Chairman, Chief Remi Ogungbemi.
Others were; President of NAFAC, Mr. Yinka Bakare, Chief Austen Kelly and former Commissioner of Transportation, Lagos State, Comrade Kayode Opeifa.