Nigerian Ports Authority says the country is not prepared to shut down its seaports despite the impact of the Coronavirus Disease, which has begun to take a toll on the country’s economy.
COVID-19 cases hit 65 in the country on Thursday, with one death, amid concerns that the authorities were economical with the true figures.
NPA said as an import-dependent country, it was impossible for Nigeria to shut down its seaports, where aids from overseas were received.
The General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Adams Jatto, however, told journalists that the agency had reduced movement into the ports, to maintain social distancing effort aimed at tackling the 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 sanitisers that are being used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are mostly imported. The gloves, face masks 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 COVID-19.”
According to him, the airports and borders can be closed, but not the seaports, because of their importance to a nation’s economy.
“However, to curtail the spread of the virus, we have had to reduce the number 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 a vessel berths at the port, we don’t allow the vessel crew members to disembark from the vessel until the Port Health officers at declare 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.”