COVID-19: Why Nigeria cannot shutdown seaports ― NPA

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has revealed that aside from the fact that Nigeria is an import-dependent nation, the need to ensure a steady supply of materials to combat the COVID-19 pandemic cannot allow her to shut her seaports.

Speaking to Tribune Online exclusively, Spokesman of the NPA, Adams Jatto, stated that the agency has reduced movement into the ports in order to maintain social distancing effort aimed at tackling the Coronavirus pandemic.

According to Adams Jatto, “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 sanitisers 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.

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“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.”

Also, at the Same border, which has now become a ghost town devoid of the usual hustling activities, security operatives could be seen stationed at strategic posts, ensuring the border closure policy of government remain in force.

Speaking to Tribune Online exclusively, Spokesman of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Seme Border, Mr Yusuf Babatunde, stated that no human entry or exit is being allowed through the Seme border post.

In his words, “The borders are permanently.closed in line with the Federal Government directive.

“Prior to now, the border closure only affected commercial activities, that is no goods were allowed to enter through Seme. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the directive by government to curtail it’s spread, no human movement is being allowed through Seme for now.”

It would be recalled that most sectors of the nation’s economy are currently shutting down in order to contain the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.


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