Coronavirus: NPA Monitors Foreign Vessels Calling At The Nation’s Seaports As Major Shipping Lines Reduce Patronage Of China Ports

By Stephen Ubanna

When Osagie Ehnaire, minister of Health  said  government attention would be focused on the seaports , airports and land borders which are the country’s major entry points in order  to contain the spread of the Asian country of China Originated Coronavirus which  have ravaged differrent parts of the world, not many took him serious.

This is because they knew  the government would eventually  shift the attention to the  Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, which  oversees the nations ports to handle while  the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN , Nigerian Immigration Services, NIS,  and Port Quarantine , would be made to  take charge of scrutinising the movement of travellers in and out of the international airports across the country and their Crew members to  ensure that the sickness was .not exported to Nigeria.

Dr Sagie Ehnaire: Minister of Health

  Indeed, the confirmation that an Italian who  has contacted the Coronavirus  has found his way into Nigeria  through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA,  after diagnosis, may have toughened the  officials of NPA, to take a closer look on the foreign vessels  calling at the nation’s ports  and their crew as . Already, it opened the eye of officials of FAAN, NIS and Port Quarantine at the airports to beam their searchlight   on the  International Flights landing  at the   ,nation’s International airports located in different parts of the country to know the state f their health.  

Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director, NPA, may have left  no one in doubt  that the Campaign to make Nigeria a Coronavirus- free country  is a serious one that must be won.     Given that the sickness had originated from Wuhan, in the  Hebei Province of China, which remain concentrated in the Province, but  had spread to South Korea, Italy and iran,  may given the port  officials , the power  to monitor  vessels sailing to Nigeria with cargo from these countries and other parts of the world.

 Part of the Health security measures that was said to have been initiated  by the   Hajia Usman led  NPA Management  was the mass provision of face masks and sanitisers  for  port  Staff including the  Dockworkers.

Hajia Hadiza Usman: MD, NPA

 Between December, last year and now, The Value News  learnt that the port of Tangshan which is an official deep seaport on the coast  of Tangshan Municipality in Hebei Province, Northern China, appear to have been abandoned by Major world shipping lines. This is evident as Containers loaded with export manufactured goods including steal products, littered the port. To forestall further production of export goods, many factories were said t have been shut down  in the Province.

 The situation may have been made worse as  some top global Shipping Lines which were  scared of taking their Container vessel to the Province to  freight cargoes because of the attitude of    some f the    Asian country trading partners  towards vessels sailing from the Coronavirus infested country  to their own country to discharge cargoes.

Take for instance,  AERSKKb Shipping Line, popular, Maersk, a major shipping  Line that discharges cargoes from  China  APM  Terminal in Nigerian premier port, Apapa, MSC, CMA  and CGM lines were said to have  reduced  calls to China, described  as blank sailing by manufacturing Companies  in recent months. It is on records   that  regular schedules of ships to the ports of China, particular, the port at the Hebei Province has been  most affected as port workers are stuck at home or kept away from their  places  of work to avoid contacting the sickness that have killed thousands of people in the Province alone.

Note the  the warehouses around the ports in China are still operational. This is because  the export factories had  not closed shop.   It is not surprising why China scheduled cargo vessels  were said to have been diverted in the last two months from China to South Korea.   This may have informed  why the dreaded  sickness  spread to the country and the resolve by other maritime  nations including Nigeria to protect their parts..

The fallout of the cargo divertions  to South Korea  had been  the spillover  with Container  Capacity  as  the country’s Busan port, described as one of the   world’s  major Container terminals is currently witnessing a spillover   with Container Capacity  at 78  percent.   Already, there are fears  in maritime  circles the South Korea Port  cargo handling  Capacity   might rise further going by the warning  of the World Health Organisation, WHO, that the   sickness has become epidemic.

More so, more tonnage  of Container ships are said to be idling  away around  the world now  than during  the global  financial crisis, going by the recent report  of  Alphaliner data service.  Charter tankers  and Bulk cargo vessels were said to have dropped in the last two months in China.    

Worried by the down n the China’s economy as a result of the Coronavirus epidemic, the Chinese government appear determined to jump start the economy to encourage shipping Lines and cargo flights to resume normal operation in the country.

China has some of  the  world’s biggest  and newest  seaports and airports  but using them  has become a harder because of road blocks , Quarantines and factory closings.   The fear in both official and unofficial circles is that the Coronavirus, epidemic , might eat into the N2 trillion  revenue  target  set by the government for the Nigerian Customs  Service, NCS, for this  fiscal year.   But one person who do not believe that the  virus   would have  any adverse effect on the volume of Containers being shipped from China to Nigeria is Abdullahi Musa, Comptroller, Tin Can Island Command.   He is optimistic that the Command would still maintain its high revenue  generation  with improved Container ships from China calling at the Lagos port from China and other parts of the world notwithstanding the Coronavirus epidemic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *