National President, Nigerian Institute of Shipping (NIS), Capt. Anthony Onoharigho, has called on the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC) to invoke laws that would ensure evacuation of empty containers away from the ports.
The Presidential Task Team (PTT) on the Restoration of Law and Order in Apapa made a similar call on the Federal Government in November 2019, for the Federal Government to declare a national emergency on empty containers handling at the Lagos ports.
Onoharigho who made the observation in Lagos on Monday said the measure is necessary not only to reduce the nuisance caused by empty containers gradually flooding the Lagos Ports, but also ensure it does not snowball into unmanageable port congestion.
“These containers are meant for individuals who are shippers. The vessels that bring them, come in with goods and are supposed to take them back with goods.”
“But if there are no goods to carry, the containers should be removed from the ports immediately so, as not to constitute a nuisance.
“The NPA has a constitutional way of handling cargo with the understanding, arrangement and agreement between them and port terminal operators.
“They can also invoke that part of the law to discharge the containers from the port,” Onoharigho said.
He pointed out that there were also other alternative means of removing the containers if owners did not want to do so.
He explained that it could be by auctioning, giving out to individuals who wished to make use of them or any other means government deemed fit to dispose of them.
The NIS president said that as regards holding bays, if ship owners wanted to have stacking spots for the containers, NPA should release the containers for them and reduce the nuisance it was causing in the port.
“This issue of the empty container has been on for a long time and the shippers’ council and the NPA are responsible for goods and containers’ transit from one place to another.
“There is a stacking place in Apapa and if individual ship owners who export cargoes want to get a stacking place of their own, they can do that in Apapa,” he said.
The team urged the Federal Government to give 30 to 60 days moratorium to ease the pressure and nuisance caused by empty containers at the ports.
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