The Nigerian Ports Authority has announced an increase in the rent-free period for cargoes housed in the seaport terminals.
The agency indicated this in a statement on Tuesday.
According to the statement, the rent-free days have increased from the current period of three free days before the commencement of rent charges to 21 free days before the commencement of rent charges for a period of four months.
NPA explained that the measure was aimed at reducing the financial burden on importers caused by the congestion and gridlock at the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports.
The statement read in part, “With effect from Tuesday, December 18, there will be an increase in rent-free period for cargoes housed in the terminals from the current period of three free days before the commencement of rent charges to 21 free days before the commencement of rent charges for a period of four months.
“With effect from Tuesday, December 18, there will be an increase in the demurrage free period on the return of empty containers from the current five days period to 15 days for a period of four months.
“Shipping companies should 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 agency also urged the Nigeria Customs Service to immediately commence the auction of overtime cargoes, adding, “This 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. “
NPA, however, encouraged terminal operators to negotiate and grant waivers to consignees to facilitate the evacuation of cargoes to mitigate the effect of the auction and subsequent loss of revenue by the terminal operators as well as the loss of cargo by the consignees.
It stated, “The Authority wishes to state that these measures are emergency steps taken to immediately 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 parks and holding bays with e-call up system, the enhancement of cargo evacuation using rail transportation and inland waterways with barges, among others.
“The Authority recognises 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.”