By Richard Adeniyi
Divergent views have started trailing the directive by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to shipping lines to divert ships laden with cargoes meant for Lagos ports to eastern ports due to the high level of congestion at Lagos ports.
While both the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the National Association of Government Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) have hailed the move, saying that there is need for eastern ports to be properly put to use.
Other stakeholders including the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) as well as the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) say it is not done anywhere in the world.
National Daily however, gathered that the NPA had merely issued the directive on the probability of the continuous level of congestion at the Lagos ports but had not given a final directive for the transfer of laden ships destined for Lagos to the Eastern ports.
The NPA recently said that it may send more ships to the Eastern ports of Port Harcourt, Onne, Calabar and Delta this year.
The NPA General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Mr. Adams Jatto said the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman directive for diversion has been issued to the terminal operators and shipping lines.
According to him, due to the border closure, Lagos ports are witnessing a tremendous influx of cargoes which has led to congestion.
“We are aware that we have overtime cargoes at the ports due to delays, but efforts are being made by customs and stakeholders to ensure these cargoes are evacuated to make way for accommodating more cargoes,” he said.
But reacting to this, the Vice President of MAN, Mr. John Aluya maintained that there are lots of investments in the Eastern ports, which should be allowed to be put into use.
“Ordinarily, I think it is an ideal thing you know the eastern ports are idle, and they should be patronized to make them work. I don’t know the reason behind NPA saying they want to patronize the Eastern ports, but a lot of investment have been put in the ports that are wasting away. So I support the use of the eastern ports so that they can be more viable and contribute to the nation’s economic development.
According to him, every nation has their own problems and it is left for them to look for a proactive ways to solve the problems.
Also speaking on who bears the cost for the cargo diversion, he said, that will be negotiated between the NPA and shipping lines.
The cost has to be negotiated between NPA and Shipping lines and on the bases of the contract as stated, yes their destination is Lagos and that is where they are and you know they stand the chance of staying up to one month in Lagos without discharging because of the congestions. So they will check between going to the Eastern ports or staying in Lagos it is an opportunity cost whichever one pay them. Or they speak with NPA and give them a little bit of heavyway”, he said.
Also speaking, the President of Master Mariner, Captain Tajudeen Alao said it has happened in the past, before the consignee says port of discharge in Lagos they will go and discharge his cargo in Calabar and he has to pay so much money to bring the cargo from Calabar to Lagos.
Expatiating further, he said that the NPA should consider the draft of those ports at the east before diverting cargoes there, even as he added that it is considerable if it is within the same terminal.
However, the President of NAGAFF, Chief Uche Increase said that the decision by the NPA to divert vessels to Eastern ports is in order to reduce the waiting time of vessels at Lagos ports.
He said, diversion of vessel to Eastern ports is a good initiative. What NPA is doing is not wrong, because at present, the ports access roads are not in good shape, even as port congestion is leading to hopelessness on the access road.