NIGERIAN SHIPPERS’ COUNCIL TACKLES COVID 19
ADDRESS BY THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY/CEO OF NIGERIAN SHIPPERS COUNCIL DELIVERED AT THE HEAD OFFICE OF THE NIGERIAN SHIPPERS’ COUNCIL ON PORT OPERATIONS DURING COVID19
Stakeholders in the Maritime Industries
Representatives of government agencies
Staff of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council
Gentlemen of the Press, I welcome you to this briefing.
I do not take for granted your presence at this occasion, particularly in these trying times. It is for this reason that we have taken every precaution to ensure the safety of everyone here.
The Council has invited you here today as its ever-reliable partners in disseminating information to stakeholders in the Maritime industry as well as the generality of Nigerians. It is important that we all know exactly what is going on in the sector so that our economy is not unduly adversely affected by the lockdown.
Considering the impact of port activities on the economy, it is important that the correct state of affairs be communicated to all stakeholders in order not to exacerbate a situation which has the potential to affect the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians.
Let me first thank Mr. President for proactively putting in place a lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States so as to stop the spread of the Corona Virus amongst the teeming populations of the Federal Capital Territory and these two states of the federation.
In its capacity as Port Economic Regulator and Trade Facilitator, Nigerian Shippers’ Council has taken steps to ensure that cargo flow continues.
As you know, even in the hardest hit countries, port operations have continued without let or hindrance. In an interdependent world, goods continue to move around and the manufacturing of goods cannot be halted otherwise economies would be in bigger trouble than they are set to be as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many essential commodities, particularly drugs, medical equipment and consumables need to be imported by many countries including Nigeria.
It is against this background that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council stepped up its engagement with port operators by providing transportation to and from the ports daily for freight forwarders during the period if the lockdown. I must remark that response to this service has been encouraging.
The Council visited some terminals in the course of the week and had very useful discussions with their operators. These discussions have led to the Council intervening on behalf of freight forwarders with banks to extend their services to port operators in order to allow them pay fees to various agencies to facilitate clearance of cargoes from ports. We cannot afford to have our terminals clogged up with more uncleared cargoes. We are happy to note that a number of banks have been cooperating as their branches in Apapa to ease transactions fo freight forwarders.
LIST OF BANKS, Zenith, UBA, FCMB and GTBank
It gives me great pleasure to report that all stakeholders have been very cooperative in a bid to ensure that activities in the Maritime sector suffer minimum disruption. I note that you have been reporting on yesterday’s meeting with NIMASA. We all recognize that we are all in this together and we hope to emerge stronger at the end of this pandemic.
Nigerian Shippers’ Council has been engaging the Port Health Services as well, as it works very hard to ensure that port users, and indeed the generality of Nigerians are protected from the virus as essential goods make their way into the country.
Nigerian Shippers’ Council has made some modest contribution in cash and protective materials towards the fight against COVID-19.
However, its most important contribution is in ensuring that it does not drop the ball in terms of its responsibility as Port Economic Regulator in thes very fluid and difficult times. This is why we continue to engage with stakeholders to ensure that the ports run as smoothly as possible under the circumstances.
I cannot conclude this address without acknowledging the hardwork, commitment and cooperation of the following:
The Vice President’s team on Post COVID-19 economy
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation’s Task Force on COVID-19
The Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwoolu and his COVID-19 team
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Kayode Odumosu
Port Health Services
And last, but not the least, the brave medical workers, security forces, researchers working all hours to find a vaccine and of course all of you present here today.