CONTRARY to media reports, the world’s largest container carrier, Maersk and its sister company Safmarine have denied stopping their shipping services to the ports in Lagos.
In a Customer Advisory they issued separately last week, both shipping lines said calls to Lagos ports is continuing across their global network despite challenges facing operations at the ports in Lagos.
Parts of the Customer Advisory issued by Maersk reads: “The West Africa market continues to be dynamic and market demand fluctuates significantly from quarter to quarter. Currently, we are experiencing severe delays in Lagos due to highly utilized terminal yards, crane break-downs and long trucking queues. We continue to work proactively with all our terminal partners across West Africa and specifically with Nigerian Ports Authority to assist where possible to mitigate the congestion currently being experienced in Lagos.
“As was communicated in early January, we would like to reiterate some adjustments made to various services across our Far East to West Africa network to deliver a stable and reliable product to our customers. Please find below the service rotations within West Africa before returning to the Far East:
“FEW1 will serve Cotonou, Abidjan, Tincan and Lome; FEW2 will serve Walvis Bay, Apapa, Tema, Apapa and Pointe Noire, while FEW3 will serve Tema, Lome, Cotonou, Onne and Walvis Bay.”
Maersk said the changes to its service rotation were to ensure “we can continue to call at all West African ports that we have in the past whilst ensuring we limit the impact of the delays on your cargo.
“Additional to the above mentioned we will continue to call in Lagos with our Middle East product (MESAWA) and our Europe service (WAF6),” Maersk stated further.
The world largest shipping line said it would continue to monitor the situation and will communicate any future changes to its vessel schedules, “as is the norm across our global network”.
Safmarine, in its own Customer Advisory, also said its service rotations within West Africa before returning to the Far East include FEW1 serving Cotonou, Abidjan, Tincan and Lome; FEW2 serving Walvis Bay, Apapa, Tema, Apapa and Pointe Noire; and FEW3 serving Tema, Lome, Cotonou, Onne and Walvis Bay.
Maersk is the world’s largest container shipping company by both fleet size and cargo capacity, serving 116 countries. It has more than 31,000 employees. Maersk operates over 786 vessels and has a capacity of 4.1 million.
Safnarine is present in more than 85 countries and has more than 1200 sailors selling its services
Recall that the continued build-up in the already massive congestion at the Lagos ports, prompted the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, to declared an emergency and commenced diversion of vessels to alternative terminals within Lagos as well as Eastern Ports three weeks ago.
Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Reports on the development Managing Director of the NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, explained that it was in the interest of everybody to divert the vessels to other ports instead of waiting endlessly, sometimes for three weeks, to berth and discharge cargoes while accumulating costs on elongated dwell time.
She stated: “We have noted the attendant congestion as it relates to berthing of vessels in the last one month and off-course, the issue of the closure of the land borders is clear reason why you have more vessels calling with higher volumes.
“One of the things we have done is that we have held discussions with the key terminal operators particularly A.P. Moller Terminals and we took a decision to have the vessels being diverted to the Eastern ports.
“We believed that any vessel that has stayed in anchorage over four days should go and berth elsewhere.
“We have given the shipping companies between now and Monday, and with effect from Monday, we are going to proceed with vessels being diverted to other terminals within Lagos and then to the Eastern ports.
“Our position is that it is in everybody’s best interest for us to have these cargoes being diverted to other locations.