Border Closure: Nigeria Ports ready for increased cargoes at seaports – NPA

Abiola Seun     |      

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has expressed the readiness of terminal operators to handle increased cargo throughput occasioned by closure of the land borders by the federal government.

Recall that the Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) on Monday restricted import and export into Nigeria to the seaports as he ordered the closure of land borders.

The complete closure of the border however affects borders in the South – South, South-West, North-Central and North-West excluding the South-East and the North -East borders.

The CGC insisted that all import and export of goods from the nation’s land borders remain banned until there is an agreement with neighbouring countries on the kind of goods that should enter and exit Nigeria.

According to him, the measure is for the security agencies to be able to scan the goods entering the country.

He maintained all goods must only enter through the legitimate air and sea ports where they can undergo thorough scanning and certified fit for consumption.

However, with the total closure of the land borders, importers who are used to importing Nigeria bound cargoes through the Cotonou port would now route their cargoes through Nigerian seaports.

But, speaking to journalists, the general manager,  Corporate and Strategic Communications, NPA, Engr. Adam Jatto said the terminals in the seaports are ready  to receive cargoes at the ports.

Jatto opined that the Nigerian seaports have the capacity to handle increase cargoes.

He said, “Nigerian ports have the capacity to cope with the volume of cargoes that will likely come into the country. Before, we have a congestion and we were able to clear it.

 With that I believe we can exceed what we plan for and we should be able to cope”

“What the management has done is to engage the stakeholders for them to know what’s in the offing and the increase in cargoes so, every hand is on  deck and knowing fully well that the issue of operations is done by terminal operators so they are aware of the policy and they are prepared for how they can approach the increased cargo throughput, that’s where we are.”

Speaking further, Jato stated that terminal operators also have the required equipment to meet the increased cargo throughput.

“They (terminal operators) have the required equipment to withstand the increase because the monitoring and regulatory division is equally monitoring the equipment they have to ensure they can meet current realities.

Also speaking, the founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forrwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Boniface Aniebonam  said the impact of the closure of the land borders would lead to increased cargoes at the seaports.

Aniebonam said, “More cargoes are coming into our ports. As a matter of fact, some of these goods are being re-routed back to our ports through the normal process. I have just told you that there is need for engagement and also respecting memorandum of understanding and if they don’t ensure that, the border should remain closed. A lot of Nigerians have no job here, so, government has the responsibility to provide for its citizens.”

He continued, “Our economy is running down and it cannot continue. So, if the neighbours see reason for the cry of Nigerian government, then the border will be opened because it is a matter that can easily be solved”, he said.

He disclosed that the government of Nigeria had provided opportunity for neighbouring countries like Benin Republic to escort goods on transit to Nigerian side and hand them over to the Nigeria Customs but regretted that that was not being done adding “I have not seen any section of the customs law that says that containerized goods cannot come through the border.”
“So, when a cargo is on transit, the final destination is Nigeria. So, if the cargo lands in Benin Republic, the same consignment, containerized will go with the seal to Nigerian border and then Nigeria will break the seal because the cargo is coming to Nigeria. And this is what the government is talking about”, he added.

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