In the wake of the spread of Coronavirus (Convid-19), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has said that Nigeria has not gotten any issue that could warrant shutting down its seaports at the moment.
Already, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has partially shut down its offices and direct staff to work from home as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus.
The General Manager, Strategic Communications, of NPA, Jato Adams, said that shutting the ports would be the prerogative of the Federal Government.
He added: “For now, we do have any any issue that could warrant shutting the ports and we are expecting that if there is anything; the Port Health will let us know. So it is only the Port Health that can make that decision.”
On the measures put in place to prevent the Coronavirus at the seaports, he said NPA is in collaboration with the other agency to handle any situation arises as regards to isolation centres.
He said: “When you talk about the health in the ports, it is the responsibility of the Port Health Services. Since the National Disease Control Agency is headed by the minister, whatever is heard or seen should be limited to the ship. When the ship is quarantined, that is when you have any case of the virus, such ship is isolated or stay at Anchorage area so that the Port Health workers can go in and do whatever they want to do if there is any case so that the person can be evacuated for treatment.”
Also speaking, Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, has emphasised the need for the nation’s seaports to remain open at all times while the federal and state governments battle to contain the spread of the pandemic.
“As we face the global public health crisis birthed by the Coronavirus disease, otherwise knows as COVID-19, we advise government to ensure that the supply chain is not disrupted and the seaports keep running. Even if other sectors of the economy are shut down to guard against the spread of the virus, the seaports should remain open to ensure that there is no shortage of food, drugs and other essential supply to Nigerians,” the STOAN Chairman said on Monday.
The shipping sector, Princess Haastrup explained, is key in contributing to secure the continuity of economic activities, ensuring supply chains to industries; transport of essential goods, including energy and food supplies, and transport of vital medical and protective equipment and supplies.
She said: “It is imperative for the fight against COVID-19, the supply of essentials, as well as for increasing the chance of the economic recovery on the other side of the outbreak, that maritime and connected transport is allowed to continue, and that government works actively to support the sector throughout the period of the crisis.
“The continued functionality of the ports and port ecosystems is imperative for securing movement of goods at scale, for prevention of shortages and thus for maintenance of public order. Observations from China during the COVID-19 outbreak show how a top priority given by national leaders to ensure business continuity in ports can help minimise the impact of precautionary measures on the fluidity of trade and port operations.”
She noted that central actions were supplemented by local initiative from local logistics and shipping industry, saying while much of Chinese society was in lockdown during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, Chinese ports continued operations with minimum disruptions.