…As Council eases stakeholders’ movements with free buses, boosts COVID-19 war with N10m***
The Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS) on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to reverse or cancel any Port Concession Agreement prepared or entered into by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), without any input of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).
The SALS Chairman, Rev. Jonathan Nicol made the call in Lagos, stressing that the call derived from SALS informed position, especially on the workability or rationality of any agreements concluded, without the inputs of core stakeholders.
“We are very concerned over the Press release by the Nigerian Shippers Council, that another Port Concession Agreement was secretly prepared by the Nigerian Ports Authority, without the knowledge and input of key players in the Industry.
“We are in support of the Press Release made by the Nigerian Shippers Council who represents the interests of Shippers in matters relating to Port Charges and price regulations.
“Without the input of the Nigerian Shippers Council, the motive of getting a workable mechanism for regulated and equitable Port pricing is defeated.
“Therefore, in order to transit without additional burden on the users of Port facilities in Nigeria, Government should withdraw the document and cancel it outrightly. The Ports Concession Agreement of 2006 has brought untold hardship to Nigerians and one of the fallout is the Apapa traffic, which has no solutions, whether or not the roads are completed.
“It also introduced impunity; in addition to public monopoly.
“The Nigerian Shippers Council has our mandate to represent us where necessary, especially within Government circles to fight for the interests of Shippers.
“Sidetracking the Nigerian Shippers Council is a bad signal. Shippers Association Lagos State will insist in consultation with our 26 State Chapters, to fight this cause; and for the rights of Shippers!” Nicol further stated.
It would be recalled that the intractable gridlock in Apapa generated a blame game, in which port users have insisted, that the non-inclusion of stakeholders’ inputs, when ports concession agreements were entered into, created the current impasse and other unfolding lapses.
In the meantime, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has responded to the need of freight forwarders, by adding Sango-Ota to the five routes currently operated by the Shippers’ Council’s free transport service to and from the ports, as Lagos enters the second week of lockdown.
Rakiya Zubairu, Shippers’ Council Deputy Director, Public Relations highlighted that the gesture became imperative because
Shippers’ Council is mindful of the importance of social distancing and hence, made it mandatory on the free services.
“Terminals are also constantly reminded to put in place containment and preventive measures”, Zubairu posited further, noting NSC’s last week’s introduction of return bus services, to convey freight forwarders who have business at the ports.
A front seat driver, it would be recalled that the Nigerian Shippers Council actually donated a total of N10 million to the fight against Coronavirus scourge.
Of this amount, N5 million would be used to purchase protective gears for port users and be distributed to relevant field and operational staff. While the remaining N5m would be used collectively, in the fight against the virus in Lagos and Abuja, the federal capital territory.
The council also released a number of buses to ease movements of accredited freight forwarders who have businesses to conduct at the ports and other port users.
The NSC provided the buses to and from the ports to pick up and drop port users at designated bus stops.
According to Zubairu, the buses would leave the following locations in Lagos at 8am, throughout the lockdown period with effect from April 1st, 2020: 1. Festac (by Apple Junction) 2. Okokomaiko (at Alakija under bridge), 3. Surulere (by National Stadium) 4. Oshodi (at Charity bus stop) and 5. Ikeja (at Ikeja along bus stop.