The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman has stated that there is a need to isolate the maritime sector from the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Bala-Usman said that within the context of plunging oil prices and uncertainty in the commodity market, the Nigerian maritime sector was the industry that would place Nigeria to take her rightful place of dominance in the global marketplace.
Giving the reports of the country’s performance of the sector in global trade, the Nigerian Ports Authority MD said Nigeria had kept recording positive trade balance since the Federal Government’s diversification drive started and there were corresponding efforts to guarantee ease of doing business at the ports.
Her projections are confirmed by the National Bureau of Statistics that has documented positive trade balance for Nigeria for the major part of 2019.
For instance, in the third quarter of 2019, Nigeria’s trade grew by 6.8 per cent. Imports decreased by 2.07 per cent and exports increased by 15.02 per cent, giving Nigeria a positive trade balance of 12.95 per cent.
In monetary terms, Nigeria’s total trade stood at N9.2tn in Q3 2019. The export component was N5.3tn while import component was N3.9tn, giving the country a positive trade balance of over N5tn.
NBS reported that Nigeria’s import had decreased by 2.70 per cent during the quarter under review.
Bala-Usman said the country had chosen to keep its ports open despite the rage of the coronavirus, to buttress its importance as ports that accounted for more than 60 per cent of African trade.
In order to ensure that the ports were kept open and safe against the spread of the virus, Bala-Usman said the NPA placed vessels coming into the country from Asia on red alert, due to the high rate of infection from the region.
The agency also agreed with shipping companies to divert vessels whose crew members were showing symptoms of the virus from Mauritius.
In addition to this, personnel from the Port Health Services of the Federal Ministry of Health are permanently on the ground to avoid the spread of the virus.
A case in point was when a crew on an oil rig had the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control fly on a helicopter to screen them before they could approach Lagos.
Six members of the crew eventually tested positive for the virus.
The Federal Government instituted additional measures to ensure that visiting vessels had their crew screened on the high seas before they approach anchorage.

Infinity Tyres