Nigeria cannot afford to shut down her seaports despite the impact of the coronavirus which has begin to take a toll on the country’s economy.
Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said that as an import dependent country, it was impossible for Nigeria to shut down her seaports.
Adams Jatto, NPA general manager for corporate and strategic communications however, told journalists that the agency had reduced movement into the ports in order to maintain social distancing effort aimed at tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
He said, “One thing you have to bear in mind is that Nigeria is an import-dependent nation. Again, if we are talking of measures needed to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, we will need materials to do that, and those materials have to come from other countries through the Seaports.
“All the sanitizers that are being used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are mostly imported. The gloves, face mask and others are imported. Even if we are manufacturing them here, the materials that will be needed for them to be manufactured must come through the ports.
“I have not seen any country in the world that has closed its seaports due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airports and borders can be closed, but not the seaports because of its importance to a nation’s economy. If a country must survive, its ports have to be opened for movement of cargoes.
“However, to curtail the spread of the virus, we have had to reduce the numbers of people that go into the ports. We no longer allow gathering of people in the ports.
We are maintaining social distancing in the ports, and that is why anytime vessel berths at the port, we don’t allow the vessel crew members to disembark from the vessel until the Port Health officers at the port clear them free of any infection.
“The port activity is about cargoes, and these cargoes have economic Implication, so no nation can afford to close its ports if it must survive.”