August 1, 2021

Nigeria Transport Hub

…the epicentre for all transport modes

Correcting the imbalance in Nigerian ports management

3 min read

TIN CAN ISLAND PORT, LAGOS

The imbalance in the administration of the Nigerian ports has been worrisome to most shippers and numerous other port users especially importers, and industrialists whose cargos’ destinations are billed for either the South-South or South-Eastern parts of the country. As much as investors in these regions are renowned for commerce and industrial development, the volume of port activities in that region belies the enormous industrial enterprise in the regions.

About 80 per cent of cargo still come into the country through the Western ports in Lagos despite the recent sanction that the Eastern ports should equally resume full port operations. Sadly, most of the cargo for the South East region are still being brought to the Western port. They are often moved to the east by road instead. Presently the eastern port is witnessing a decrease in cargo despite the multibillion-naira investment that regularly transpires in that region.

It should be established as the norm that Cargos whose destination is the eastern part of the country should be shipped directly to the eastern ports. And from the port usage, enough capacity and adequate infrastructure should be progressively provided and in a consistent manner so that in due course, every material particular in hi-tech infrastructure would be provided to promote business for the eastern port.

whatever in equipment that would make cargo handling easier for importers, agents and port administrators should be provided so as to encourage importers in the Southeast to make use of the eastern port. The people in the eastern part of the country need to be able to patronize the eastern ports to eliminate the burden Western port poses to them.

Questions have been raised about the distribution of cargo entering the country, primarily through western ports, which is why we are experiencing port congestion. An X-ray on the efficiency of the western ports through the Key Management Performance Indicators, which are the maximum utilization of port capacity in terms of land asset, equipment, geographical strength, finances, human capital, and logistics, among others, revealed that the western port has since been over stretched. This could be seen in the perennial traffic gridlock in all the roads leading to Lagos port. The western ports have been over utilized, yet the eastern ports are barely utilized.

However, there is a need to applaud various terminal operators, especially at the western ports. They have put in tremendous efforts to cope with the bourgeoning traffic. Part of the contributing factors to the ultra-high cost of cargo haulage even within Lagos metropolis. It has been established that the cost of haulage of cargo from the Western ports to even a warehouse in Lagos state is now the highest in the world.

In the industry, there are a lot of challenges. Operational, finance, human capital and geographical challenges. Bearing in mind that Nigeria is an import-dependent nation and most of the goods in Nigerian port are also in transit to their final destination in countries like Niger Republic, Mali, among others. Managing cargo entries, therefore, requires equity and fairness in cargo distribution to the ports nationwide

Meanwhile, the current port system we have today was established far back in 1954 under the Act of Parliament and we are still using the same ports. Whereas the volume of cargo has increased drastically, the port infrastructure hasn’t made commensurate improvement and these call for bigger ports and deep seaports. We are all aware of the deep seaport that is in Lekki, but that will not be enough.

Also, at the deep seaport in Akwa Ibom state not much development is seen. There are also plans to have the Olokola deep seaport between Ogun State and Ondo State as well as the Badagry deep seaport. All these are solutions to the existing challenge in the industry, but they wouldn’t be viable solutions until they are properly with the state of the art infrastructure and professionally utilized.

However, it is also important to note that the industry requires human capital to be able to function effectively and efficiently. There is a need for regular human capacity development to meet the challenges in the industry. We should not lose sight of the fact that with the right equipment and excellent infrastructure, people will still be assigned to operate the system hence, a high premium needs be placed on human capacity development.

BY-: Ayoola Olaitan

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