April 22, 2018.
By Ajibola Abayomi,
With Additional Reports From Maritime Nigeria 360.
A huge loss of over N136 billion is being recorded at the Nigerian ports annually, investigation has revealed.
As a result of bad infrastructure and undue policies, from these lots, our West African neighbours like Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic profit.
The loss, according to findings, and supported by trade expert, Mr Lucky Amiwero, President, National Council of Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), and Managing Director, Eyis Resources, was attributed to long dwell time of cargoes at the ports as well as the terrible state of port access roads that have led to near blockage of the Ports.
The NCMDLCA boss was of the view that the internal and external handling charges at the ports were inimical to the interest of importers and agents.
He also said part of the reasons why cargoes owners diverted their consignments away from the port was that customs and terminal operators charge duties not covered by the law.
Cargo dwell time is the time a consignment stays in the port before it could be cleared through the existing clearing procedures at a particular port.
Amiwero submitted in an interview with our correspondent that owing to bad maritime policies and undue bureaucracy leading to huge loss of clearing time at the ports, the nation had been losing a lot of benefits to the neighboring West African countries.
The Licenced Agent, bemoaned the rate at which huge resources were being lost to the other nation stating that there was agent need to have a robust maritime policy that tallied with international trade treaty.
For other neighboring states, clearing of cargoes is a function of the efficiency which takes few hours.
However, in Nigerian ports, despite government’s efforts to shorten the procedure through automation process and fewer agencies, the process is said to still be painstakingly slow, laborious and frustrating. This is compounded by the bad access roads which make cargo exit difficult.
Investigation however, revealed that, Nigeria’s land locked neighbouring countries such as Chad and Niger Republics who make use of the nation’s posts as transit points have substantially reduced their patronage due to these unfavourable factors.
Checks revealed that Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana have wooed these landlocked countries to make use of their ports which are said to be more customers – friendly than Nigerian Ports.
Nigeria is estimated to be losing substantial part of an estimated sum of N136billion which accrue from their patronage annually to its neighbouring countries.
Transit cargoes are cargoes meant for landlocked countries like Chad and Niger Republic which have no access to the sea.
Niger shares about 1,500 kilometres of boundary with Nigeria, and with a coastline of about 800 kilometres. Thus, Nigerian ports remain the natural gateway for Niger and Chad’s access to the sea.
Nigerien ports are also nearer to Jibiya (a border town between both countries) than Togo, Benin Republic or Ghana; while Ghana to Niger is about 3,400 kilometres, Lagos to Jibiya in Niger is just 1,300 kilometres.
Prior to 2006, Nigerien and Chadian cargoes passed through Nigerian ports to these countries because of Nigeria’s proximity to them.
But since 2006, about 70 per cent of Niger Republic’s cargoes, which were transited through Nigerian seaports, have been lost to neighbouring Ghana, Togo, and Ivory Coast.
Before the diversion, Nigeria handled 10 million metric tonnes of Nigerien cargoes, but, presently, 4.3 million metric tonnes of the 10 million metric tonnes of transit cargo are taken to Benin Republic.
Nigerian importers also moved 2.5 million metric tonnes of their transit cargo to Togo, 1.8 million metric tonnes and 400,000 metric tonnes went to Ghana and Ivory Coast respectively. Nigeria is left with a paltry 200,000 metric tonnes of transit cargoes from Niger Republic.
Similarly, the country has lost some millions of Chad’s transit cargoes to Ghana, Togo and Benin ports.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, although worried about the development said the landlocked countries still patronise Nigerian port but high cargo dwell time and dilapidated port access road is contributing to this loss to neighbouring countries.
“I have always said that it is an economic decision by shippers to take cargoes anywhere but Nigerians are bringing their cargoes to Nigerian port. We are having shipment and they are informing us about it what we have is a little bit of road problem and dwell time of cargoes at the port.
“We are fixing infrastructure and delivering on efficiency and you will see that very soon, they will make that decision to use Nigeria for their shipment.” Bello declared.
The Shippers’ Council boss also stated that efficiency of terminal operators and shipping companies are needed to keep attracting transit cargoes to the country.
“The issue of transit cargoes is issue of efficiency by our terminals and shipping companies and we have always preached that the shippers have the right to take their cargoes anywhere,” he said.