By Thompson ABISOLA
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has directed shipping companies to deploy sweeper vessels to evacuate empty containers from the Lagos port terminals within four months.
A statement on Friday in Lagos signed by Mr Adams Jatto, NPA General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communication said the evacuation was to tackle issues of overtime cargoes at Lagos seaports.
It urged shipping line agencies to make use of Onne ports for the evacuation process.
The NPA stressed that the ports were meant to serve as transit points, not storage facilities.
It added that, “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 months.
“There will be an increase in rent- free period for cargoes housed in the terminals from the current period of three 3 free days before commencement of rent charges to 21 free days before commencement of rent charges for a period of four months.
”The Nigerian Customs Service is urged to immediately commence the process of auctioning of overtime cargoes.
” 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.
“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”.
The NPA explained that the measures were emergency steps taken to immediately reduce the financial burden of congestion on citizens as the Federal Government proceeds to permanently resolve the congestion through reconstruction of the Port access road.
Apart from the roads, NPA said the provision of trailer park and holding bays with e-call up system, was key to ease congestion.
The statement added that the enhancement of cargo evacuation using rail transportation and inland waterways with barges was also necessary.