Worried by the plight of Importers with their Clearing agents at the country’s seaports and airports as a result of the global Coronavirus, which had affected businesses, Boniface Anniebonam, Founder, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, who could no longer sit-by and watch his members suffer, appear to have taken a bold initiative to save their lives: Ground the seports and airports.
Taking a cue from Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos state, who had been restless since the outbreak of the sickness to close down schools and markets to avoid the gathering of too many people at a place described as a veritable source of spreading the dreaded disease, the NAGAFF , founder was said to have mobilised members to shut down operations at the seaports and International airports until the COVID 19 Diseases improves .
Recall that the government had directed that all vessels approaching the nation’s seaports at the moment are at the discretion of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, to allow the vessel entry but under strict conditions of the rules of engagement to berth and discharge their cargoes or ordered to port or orgin if suspecteed.
In taking the decision, the NAGAFF Chieftain had said that “ under the present circumstances we have found that our lives as agents operating at the seaports and airports which are gateways of the nation’s economy are in danger because of the increasing cases of victims of the Coontagious disease as reconfirmed by the Nigerian Centre For Disease Control, NCDC, particular, in Lagos, the country’s Commercial nerve centre.
A worried Anniebonam averred that what is happening at the country was enough reason for President Muhammadu Buhari to know that the seaports and airports across the country must be shut down for business to save lives.
There are fears that there might be congestions at the seaports as agents withdrew their services from the seaport and airports. Perhaps, to avoid such a Congestion of Containerised cargoes at the seaports, the NAGAFF Founder was said to have suggested that Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of Transportation and his Counterpart in the ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, should , set up a Special Task Force, to ensure that that the Bonded Terminals and any other dedicated area should be used to warehouse such Containerised cargoes or any other type of cargo discharged at the seaport or Airports that could not find space.
Given the increasing cases of COVID 19, Anniebonam had said that” there is need for the Lagos government and other affected states to consider imposition of a Curfew to control movement of goods and services”’. More so, he wants the Katsina state born Nigerian President to adopt further stricter measures right in dealing with Health crisis as the country lack the basic facilities to cushion the consequences of the ongoing spread of the disease.
He noted that if the government had taken urgent steps to address the menace when it first broke in the Wuhan, Hebei province of the Republic of China last December, the situation may not have been as bad as it is today in the country.
In a related Development, Tony Nwabunike, President Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, who fears that the COVID 19, situation in the country was getting worse had suggested the need for the government to further ‘’scale down operations at the seaports to an all time low to be able to contain the spread of the sickness.
The ANLCA President noted that the dreaded China sickness had overstretched the health facilities in the country, particular, Lagos state, where there are over 30 of such confirmed Coronavirus victims. He lamented that Nurses, Medical Doctors and Paramedics are being effected for treating victims which is not a good Testimony for the country.
Aware that there is no cure for the disease and to avoid endangering members live, the Association Secretariat had been shut down for business. Many fear that with the COVID 19, which had affected operations at the seaports and airports, Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General , Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, may find it difficult to hit the N2 trillion revenue target set for the service this year. There may still be hope of the service collecting the revenue as NCDC, officials had declared that the country has chances of overcoming the sickness for live to return to normalcy in the country.
- Bonniface Anniebonam: Founder NAGAFF
- 2. Tonny Nwabunike: President: ANLCA
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