The Nigerian Navy said it has alerted the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Port Health and other relevant agencies of five vessels that visited countries with high risk Covid-19 pandemic on Nigerian waters.
Speaking yesterday during a courtesy visit on the executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello, the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji stated that many of the Covid-19 prone vessels made calls at oil platforms and installation in the last one week.
According to Rear Admiral Daji, “In the last one week, we have alerted port authorities of the visit of five vessels who have called at Covid-19 high risk ports before coming to Nigeria. Fortunately for us, most of the vessels visited offshore oil and gas-based operations and did not have contact with our conventional ports.”
“The directive of the Chief of Naval Staff that we track the history of all vessels calling at Nigeria’s ports is being complied with 100 percent. We have been tracking the history of these vessels up to 90 days and beyond. The Federal Government guidelines on ships calling at our ports is very clear. Every vessel visiting our ports must show evidence that they have been at sea for the last 14days minimum. We also conduct every other health checks on the vessels to ensure they are free from the pandemic.”
The Naval Chief also advocated for the formation of a port community platform to bridge the gap between agencies of government in the maritime sector.
Speaking earlier, the Executive Secretary and CEO of Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello, commended the Navy for providing advice for port authority on vessels that have visited high risk countries fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Bello, that is the first layer of protection for the country against importing the pandemic into the country through the seaport.
He said, “We know you are providing advice to the port authorities on vessels that may call in high-risk area and that is a layer of protection for us so that special attention will be placed on such vessel. That is a priceless information and will help in the containment of the virus.”
The Shippers’ Council’s boss further stressed the need to track cargoes coming into the country, the same way vessels are tracked.
Bello who disclosed that the International Cargo Tracking Notes (ICTN) would soon be launched said it would help in the pushing Nigeria upon the ladder of ease of doing business.
“Am happy that you mentioned the international cargo tracking note because if we can track the vessels that come into the country, we should also track the cargoes and we have done a lot on this and it is receiving attention of the federal government but we hope soon, and with your voice and advice, this cargo tracking note will come on board as it will be part of ease of doing business because if you have a cargo tracking note, you are ranked in the hierarchy of ease of doing business as it will shoot the country up.”
Bello also stated that since the industry awaits the National Single Window, there is need to pursue the Port Community System to integrate all stakeholders including the Navy.
“The port community system is very important either the port community or the national single window because it is a platform that we must speak in unison and in synergy. We use it to speak to one another so that we can aggregate efforts especially now that it is very important and Shippers Council is pursuing this because it is bringing together of the agencies; that could be tasking, but just like we do the standard operating procedure and every other things just to streamline the activities of the port but the most important thing is what we have learnt in the crisis, we can’t just lay back and say the crisis is gone. What we have learnt is that there must be collaboration and coming together of port community system that speaks to everyone, that is transparent, efficient and timely because speed is important; I have seen a paper written on port community system and while we wait for national single window, I think we should pursue the PCS.
“And to pursue this, we are in tandem with the Nigerian Ports Authority, we are also thinking of PCS and the navy has its own integrated system which is a very sophisticated system and we have requested that Shippers’ council be integrated just as Customs has done so the Navy must at all time support merchant shipping which is the historical duty of the navy for a very long time.”
Editing by ‘Biodun Soyele
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