Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman

The management of the Nigerian Ports Authority has approved a 10 per cent discount on harbour dues in all concession terminals for all container, general cargo, combo and Roll On-Roll-Off vessels that call at the Eastern Ports. This is in line with efforts to increase patronage of the ports.

This incentive which is for vessels calling at the Calabar, Rivers and Delta Ports, is also part of deliberate moves to reduce over-concentration of cargo in the two seaports in Lagos, the Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports Complex, which facilities have been overstretched with the attendant congestion both on the roads and at the terminals.

A statement by the General Manager in charge of Corporate and Strategic Communications of the authority, Jatto Adams, however said that the 10 per cent discount, which takes immediate effect, will only be applicable to harbour dues payable by ccontainer vessels with at least 250 Twenty Equivalent Units TEUs.

Others to benefit from the incentive include general cargo vessels with at least 16,000 Metric Tonnes, combo vessels with at least 16,000 Metric Tonnes of cargo and Roll –On- Roll-Off RORO vessels with at least 250 units of vehicles.

According to the statement, some categories of vessels are also excluded from the incentive, which include vessels coming INBALLAST (vessels coming empty) probably to pick cargo, vessels calling at private jetties and vessels calling carrying liquid bulk cargo.

Recall that the seaports in Lagos have been grappling with massive congestion of cargo at the terminals, which has given rise to the over-flow on the port access roads with container –bearing trucks and other articulated vehicles littering all over the roads in Lagos.

It was in response to the attendant gridlocks on the port access roads that NPA sped up the completion of two truck terminals at the Tin Can Island Port and Lily Pond, Ijora, which gave rise to the introduction of the call-up system whereby only trucks on schedule are allowed to leave the terminals to the ports to pick cargo or drop empty containers.

President Muhammadu had also penultimate week given the truck divers 72 hour-ultimatum to vacate all access roads leading to the seaports or face dire consequences, a directive that expired mid night of Saturday, May 25, 2019.

This was sequel to the setting up of Presidential Task Force on Apapa gridlock, headed by the Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo.

The Task Force had last week directed the Nigerian Shippers Council and the NPA to work with other relevant organs and agencies of the government to ensure that truck drivers fully complied with the directive to vacate seaport access roads in Lagos.

The new directive mandates the immediate removal of all trucks from ports access roads in which the NSC and NPA are key agencies that will play crucial roles in the achievement of the mandate and therefore to rally round the task force.

It was however gathered that the various transport unions including the Association of Maritime Truck Owners AMATO and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria RTEAN, have commenced plans to ensure full compliance with the 72-hour directive in order not to incur the wrath of the government.

Investigations also showed that many of the truck owners have concluded plans to take their trucks to private terminals pending the completion of the work of the Task Force within the next two weeks to forestall regrettable consequences while many trucks are still littered on the roads as at the close of business Monday.