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The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), has donated protective gears for port users worth N5 million and an additional N5 million to curb the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Lagos and FCT respectively.

Mr Hassan Bello, NSC’s Executive Secretary, disclosed this in a statement in Abuja, saying that the donation was an intervention by the Council to stakeholders in the sector.

“NSC has donated protective gears for port users worth N5 million to be distributed to relevant field and operational staff.

“The Council also donates the sum of N5 million to be used collectively in the fight against COVID-19 in Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“In addition, in order to ease movement of accredited freight forwarders who have business to conduct at the ports and other port users, NSC is providing buses to and from the ports.

“The buses will leave the following locations at 8a.m during this period with effect from April 1, Festac – by Apple junction, Okokomaiko – at Alakija under bridge, Surulere – by National Stadium, Oshodi – at Charity bus stop, Ikeja – at Ikeja along bus stop,’’ Bello said.

He recalled the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the ports stayed operational and their activities monitored closely during the period of the lockdown.

Bello said the directive required field and operational officers as well as essential staff of agencies, organisations and services of the ports to be granted freedom of movement to and from the ports, upon presentation of valid means of identification.

According to him, these exempted agencies, organisations, services and their personnel must operate in accordance with guidelines issued by health authorities in that regard.

Bello noted that the present situation had caused unimaginable disruption of the logistics supply chain as users and providers of services were seemingly unable to carry out their obligations for reasons beyond their control.

He said the NSC, as Port Economic Regulator and an arbiter, was conscious of the fact that obligations, responsibilities, duties and rights might have been frustrated.

He said the council was discussing with all parties to ensure a balanced solution, especially on the issue of demurrage and incentives to facilitate the clearance of goods from the ports.

The NSC boss said the Council had been inundated with complaints that banks were not offering services with respect to port operations which without doubt, hampered cargo clearance from the ports.

Bello, however, drew the banks’ attention to the notice by the Federal Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria, which allowed operations in the financial system.

“We note that port operations as indicated by the President are essential and critical service.

“We also call for synergy amongst port users and government agencies to support the Federal Government in containing the scourge of the deadly virus while making it possible to sustain ports operations during this period,” he added.

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