Mr. John Aluya (MAN)
I think is an ideal thing, you know the eastern ports are idle and they should be patronized to make them work. a lot of investments have been put in the ports that are wasting away. So I support the use of the eastern ports so that they can be more viable and contribute to the nation’s economic development. On the port of carriage, that is an international law which I may not like to deal with. But as far as I know every nation has its own challenges and the nation determines the proactive solution. So if you want to follow the contract of carriage, yes like I said Lagos is Lagos, but where a nation is in distress, every nation also has a right to bring in kind of temporary measure. And one of those measures may be the diversion of those cargos which at that time it becomes normal. The cost has to be negotiated between NPA and shipping lines and on the bases of the contract as stated; yes their destination is Lagos and that is where they are and you know they stand the chance of staying up to one month in Lagos without discharging because of the congestion. So they will check between going to the eastern ports or staying in Lagos; it is an opportunity cost whichever one pays them. Or they speak with NPA and give them a little bit of headway.
Captain Tajudeen Alao (Master Mariner)
It has happened in the past before the consignee says port of discharge is in Lagos they will go and discharge his cargo in Calabar and he has to pay so much money to bring the cargo from Calabar to Lagos. And to raise that money was total loss, it is not done anywhere in the world. There is what we call transshipment for another ship to carry the cargo from Lagos to Calabar. Once the consignee said my port of destination is Lagos you cannot change it, if the ship decided to go to Calabar what about the draft. A 300 TEU carrier will now say it must go to Calabar or Warri, it is not possible. So it is not possible, if it is within the same terminal say instead of Apapa you go to Tin-Can, I agree with you.
Mr. Lucky Amiwero (NCMDLCA)
There is no law that gave NPA power to divert cargos to anywhere. Cargos come to the port which the importers or exporter said it is going to unless that port is not existing. The port is covered by contract of carriage which is in the Bill of Lading. And in that Bill of Lading we have what is called diversion clause. And that diversion clause is restricted and it is not for NPA to change it. It is not for normal logistics transfer then you transfer because that contract of carriage accommodates problems. NPA cannot on their own change the destination unless they want to bear the cost. And they have to bear the cost by various importers and everybody because people have assigned their cargo to come to Lagos. It is just because we don’t have expertise to manage the whole place nobody controls the place everybody does what she wants. If they try it they will pay dearly they will sue NPA in different parts of the country, they will liquidate NPA. You can divert cargo from a place just like you going to Abuja they will drop you in a place and abandon you there, how will you conclude your journey.
Barrister Emmanuel Nwagbara (Stakeholder)
It is a very good development, first it will free the facilities in Lagos ports and of course the resultant effect is that it will decongest the ports access roads. The other thing is that it will encourage investments in the eastern ports, don’t forget that the eastern ports have also been concessioned. And where you have regular call of ships, the concessionaries will put more funds into the development of the ports in that area.
Sir Ernest Elochukwu (ANLCA)
The movement of cargoes to eastern port shouldn’t just be as a result of congestion at the port, because these ports were all built with public funds, and in other countries there is deliberate allocation of cargoes to each port in the country, to ensure that there is a balance.
But in a situation where it is left to run itself it’s not good, so we can use this opportunity of congestion to look at how we can do a kind of equitable cargo distribution in the country.
Increase Uche (President NAGAFF)
Diversion of vessels to Eastern ports is a good initiative. What NPA is doing is not wrong because at present, the ports access roads are not in good shape, even as port congestion is leading to hopelessness on the access roads.
However, there is urgent need to make our ports competitive like what obtains in other places. In reality, it is obvious that Lagos ports cannot be expanded anymore.
Tony Iju (President ANLCA)
The MD of NPA shouldn’t say that before you import your goods from the port of laden you must have know your final destination, and the congestion did not start today, so I believe what the MD of NPA should have done was to have called for stakeholders meeting and let us know that in the next two months if the congestion continues we won’t have any options than to divert cargoes, so that you will let the shipper know that.
Now if I may ask, if you divert a cargo to Calabar on whose expense will that be? To move a cargo from the Lagos port to Alaba market it cost about N1.2 million, how about now moving the cargo from Calabar to Lagos.
Emeka Akabogu (Maritime Lawyer)
The port Act give the MD of NPA the power to take actions which optimises the allocation of the resources they have, and those resources include the port, for the purpose of ensuring efficiency. So my take is that if there have been inefficiency occasioned by congestion at the port, which is having an impact on the economy, the authority has the power to divert, for the wider good of the Nigerian public. So legally I think they have the power to divert.