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As part of measures to ameliorate the challenges faced by shippers doing business in Apapa and Tin-can Island ports, the Presidency, in partnership with Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), is working to reduce the cost of doing business at the ports by elongating demurrage and rent-free days for importers and exporters.
With the elongation of the free days, the amount payable to shipping companies and terminal operators as demurrage and rent charges for not returning empty containers and taking delivery of laden containers as and when due, would automatically reduce.
This is one of the strategies being considered by the Presidential Task Team to address Apapa traffic congestion through the reduction of the number of trucks moving on Apapa roads as importers and their agents were discovered to always be under pressure to beat deadline of returning empty containers.
Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary, NSC, who addressed journalists, Friday, as the presidential task team rounded off its two-week task of clearing roads/bridges around Apapa of encumbrances occasioned by the activities truckers, said, this among measures being adopted, would go a long way in tackling the menace in Apapa.
According to Bello, already, the shipping companies have extended the demurrage free days from five to 10 days, adding however, that stakeholders expect that this will be extended to 12 free days out of 90 days.
“The terminal operator has also extended the rent-free days from three to eight days. We need the truckers to be disciplined by following the procedure.”
On infrastructure, he said that “the roads are being constructed and the trailer parks are going to be available to handle traffic overflow,” while the manual call-up system will be perfected within one week and the electronic call-up ready by end of August.
“This will ensure that trucks are called only when they are needed without every of them rushing to Apapa at the same time,” he said.
Bello added that the shippers’ council has identified about 54 private parks that would be put to use and would complement the one being completed by the Federal Government overlooking the Tincan Island Port.
He said the simplification of processes and procedure would help in easing the traffic congestion and operations at ports, but emphasised the need for cooperation and synergy among the parties involved for the problem to be solved.
Also speaking, Kayode Opeyefa, vice chairman of the presidential task team, said government understood the role of the ports and was working towards ameliorating the situation.
“A lot of factories are based in Apapa and if the cost of doing business is high, it affects pricing, but it is about to come down, it will translate to cost reduction.
Opeifa said the task team has been able to within two weeks of consistent efforts, move trailers and trucks from Funsho Williams Avenue, Eko Bridge and Ikorodu Road, as well as Ijora-Olopa to Marine Beach.
“In these areas, we have achieved 100 percent compliance of what we are expected to do in terms truck removal from the bridge, extortion reduction, deploying an effective traffic management plan and direction while the deployment of call up system is predicated upon the availability of truck terminals.
He said the Lilypond terminal is now available for trucks and everything was being done to ensure it operates on 24-hour basis within days from now.
“Our assignment was predicated upon the fact that Tin-can trailer park would be available while park B,C, and D would have been cleared by the Lagos State government but they are yet to be fully available because it takes a lot of stakeholders engagement,” he said.