As Nigeria deepens trading activities ensuring seamless importation and exportation of goods amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has described freighters as critical players in the shipping industry and facilitators of the economy.
This is as the council rounds up the first phase of its COVID-19 support programme for the maritime community initiated to ensure safety of port users and other critical stakeholders.
The three-day programme started on Wednesday May 13, at the council’s headquarters in Apapa, where Hassan Bello, executive secretary, was joined by the council’s directors of Regulatory Services and Consumer Affairs, Ifeoma Ezedinma and Cajetan Agu respectively, to present handgloves, sanitisers and masks to the leaders of seven trucking associations.
Speaking at the occasion, Bello said, “The Nigeria Shipper’s Council considered it part of its responsibility to ensure the safety of truckers as you are silent facilitators of Nigeria’s economy. I commended all of you for your cooperation in acceding to the shippers council’s request to reduce your fees during the period of lockdown following the outbreak of Covid-19 in Nigeria.”
Bello however, reminded them that they are primarily responsible for their own well-being. He urged them to do everything to stay safe as their families and the nation need them.
Responding on behalf of the trucking associations, Stephen Okafor, coordinator of Committee of Maritime Truck Unions & Associations, COMTUA, commended the shippers council for its indispensable role in ensuring that the pandemic did not affect shipping activities in the country significantly. He described Bello as a partner in progress, assuring him of their cooperation in resetting Nigeria’s post-COVID-19 economy.
The sensitisation programme then moved to the terminals and shipping companies where the NCDC hygienist, Moji Ayorinde under the direction of Dr. Everistus Aniaku who is the head of emergency operations and National Response Team on COVID-19 in Lagos State, gave talks on how to protect oneself from contracting COVID-19. She demonstrated the correct method to wear a mask, hand washing, hand sanitization and physical distancing among others.
Beneficiaries of the programme at the various locations engaged the NCDC team with questions as well as sought clarifications on issues bothering on the pandemic.
Over 100 stakeholders attended the first phase of the programme. Participants were made up of freightforwarders and staff of the shipping companies and terminals.
Participants are expected to cascade the lessons as the dictates of physical distancing could not allow for all stakeholders within the different terminals and shipping companies to attend the sessions. Participants received masks and sanitisers courtesy of Nigerian Shippers’ Council.