Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello

Francis Ezem

The Nigerian Shippers Council, country’s port economic regulator has facilitated a parley between the Nigerian Railway Corporation NRC and the APM Apapa Terminals Limited, the largest container terminal operator in the country as part of efforts to enhance operational efficiency by encouraging multimodal approach to cargo evacuation especially within this period of lockdown imposed by the Federal Government to stem the spread of COVID-19 virus.

This is coming less than one week after the Council also facilitated a 30 per cent reduction in haulage cost in order to encourage importers and freight forwarders to come up and take delivery of their consignments during the lockdown to forestall congestion thereafter.

A statement by Head, Public Relations unit of the Council, Rakiya Zubairu, said in the light of this recently paid a working visit to APM Terminals, during which it brokered a meeting between the NRC and the terminal operator on the need to commence the evacuation of cargo by rail, which has been the temporarily suspended.

It was gathered that the meeting was successful as both parties pledged to abide with the Standard Operating Procedure SOP that has already been established even as the Council has assured that it will closely monitor developments.

Executive Secretary/CEO of the NSC, Hassan Bello thereafter led other management staffers of the Council in company of Port Health officials visited the commercial offices of APMT to observe compliance with health and safety protocols issued by the authorities.

Meanwhile, head, commercial unit of APM Terminals Mr. Najeem Salami, urged freight forwarders on the importance of adhering to the protocols for staying healthy in this season of COVID-19 while demonstrating proper ways to practice social distancing, hand washing and wearing of face masks.

Recall that the management of the Council had recently convened a meeting with haulers with a view to sensitising them on the need to adhere to safety regulations to stem the spread of the virus. This was sequel to the discovery of non-adherence to health precautions by truckers and other related transport service providers in the port industry, especially under the current COVID-19 pandemic,

The truckers were also persuaded to accept the Council’s proposal to effect a 30 per cent downward review of their haulage rate during the lockdown imposed by the Federal Government to curtail the spread of the virus in Nigeria.

At the one-hour meeting the Council had expressed worries that truckers are not taking specified precautions as issued by health authorities in the country, reminding them that such lackluster attitude could make them spread the virus in the course of their travels across the country.

In addition to the non-adherence to health guidelines, the duo also discussed the urgent need for the haulers to moderate and standardise their haulage rates.

The haulers, who in the course of the meeting drew the attention of the Council to some of challenges they faced, which include extortion and the unwillingness of freight forwarders to take delivery of their consignments due to pandemic, however agreed to reduce their haulage rate by 30 per cent during the period of the lockdown, especially given the light traffic, which makes movement easier.