The massive importation of petroleum products better explained how the Federal Government avoided fuel scarcity this Yuletide season, even as 18 more ships laden with Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol, are currently waiting at the Lagos ports to discharge products.
The Guardian gathered that eight of those vessels had arrived Nigerian shores since November, while the 10 others arrived this month. The vessels, which include one ship of kerosene, are currently awaiting Customs' clearance.
The latest shipping position by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) revealed that 31 other vessels laden with various categories of cargoes are currently on their way to Nigeria. Many of them are expected to arrive this month, while seven others are billed for January 2019.
Cargoes in the ship include; steel product, fish, petrol, sugar, wheat, corn, general cargo and Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK).
Meanwhile, NPA has commenced arrangements to ameliorate the financial suffering of importers in the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports in Lagos.
Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman had declared an increase in rent- free period for cargoes housed in the terminals from the current period of three free days before commencement of rent charges to 21 free days before commencement of rent charges for a period of four months.
She also increased in the demurrage free period on return of empty containers from the current five days period to 15 days for a period of four months.
She also ordered the shipping companies to immediately deploy sweeper vessels to evacuate empty containers from the port to clear the backlog of empty containers littering the country within four months. The Authority encourages the use of Onne Ports for such sweeper vessels.
The Nigerian Customs Service is urged to immediate commence the process of auctioning of overtime cargoes. This, according to NPA is imperative as the ports are meant to be transit and not storage facilities. These auctions should be carried out on the spot at port locations and every buyer would be given a stipulated short period to evacuate the cargoes out of the Ports after which they will be re-auctioned.
Terminal operators are however encouraged to negotiate and grant waivers to consignees to facilitate the evacuation of these cargoes to mitigate against the auctioning which will result in a total loss of revenue by the terminal operator and the loss of cargo by the consignee.
The Authority stated that the measures are emergency steps taken to immediate reduce the financial burden of congestion on citizens as the Federal Government proceeds to permanently resolve the congestion through the following: reconstruction of the port access road, the provision of trailer park and holding bays with e-call up system, the enhancement of cargo evacuation using rail transportation and inland waterways with barges among others.
She however added that the Authority recognizes the financial implications of these policies on the terminal operators and shipping companies and will consider a shift in our operational charges to ameliorate the situation of stakeholders.