By Thompson ABISOLA
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on Thursday, said it would take the necessary steps to curb the untold hardship being faced by Ports users due to the burden of congestion.
NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala-Usman, who gave the promise while speaking with newsmen in Lagos, said the authority was determined to especially curb traffic among other things.
Bala-Usman, while reeling out reform measures by the organisation, said that it would take immediate effort to halt loss of investment capital and man hour.
She said that there would be an increase in rent-free period for cargoes housed in the terminals, from the current three free days, before commencement of rent charges to 21 free days, adding that the exercise,however, last four months.
The managing director also said that there would be an increase in the demurrage free period on return of empty containers from 5 days to 15 days for four months.
She said: “Shipping companies should immediately deploy sweeper vessels to evacuate empty containers from the Ports to clear the backlog of empty containers littering the country.
“Within four months, the authority will encourage 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.
“Auctions should be carried out on the spot at Port locations and every buyer will be given short period to evacuate the cargoes out of the Ports, after which they will be re-auctioned, “ she said.
Bala-Usman, however, urged terminal operators to negotiate and grant waivers to consignees to facilitate the evacuation of the cargoes and militate against auctioning.
“The authority wishes to state that these measures are emergency steps taken to immediately reduce the financial burden of congestion on citizens, the Federal Government has proceeded to permanently resolve the congestion through the following:
“Reconstruction of the Ports 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.“