Currently ranked 110 on the global logistics performance index, 116 on global port competitiveness, Nigeria’s over-dependence on Lagos ports has brought untold hardship on shippers, importers, and other key stakeholders. Currently, it takes an average of 14 days to complete cargo clearance at both Apapa ports, as against the global standard average of 48 hours (2 days). Divergent figures have shown that Nigeria loses an average of 14 billion dollars annually due to port congestion, hence the need to develop and increase the cargo handling capacity of the eastern ports.
As the Nigerian Ports Authority commits towards attracting more import/export businesses to the Calabar, Port-Harcourt, and Warri by granting new tariff reliefs to shipping companies, terminal operators, the focus is on improving maritime activities on the eastern corridor through a massive expansion of port infrastructure and vessel handling capacity.
The implication of Viable Eastern Sea Ports
Upgrading the cargo handling capacity of the Calabar, Port-Harcourt, and Warri ports with modern infrastructural, technological, and manpower requirements means that the hugely encumbered Lagos ports will undoubtedly witness unprecedented decongestion, efficiency, and orderliness. This is expected to improve Nigeria’s ranking on World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index, make our ports more globally competitive, promote the ease of doing business across the nation, improve general export activities increase government revenue by more than 14 billion dollars annually.
Viable eastern ports will promote massive improvement in shipping and cargo operations in the Calabar, Old Port-Harcourt, and Warri ports. By implication, shippers in the Middle Belt, Northeast, Southeast, and South-South region may never need to consign their cargo to Lagos but will gladly explore available options like Warri, Calabar, and a massively improved port-Harcourt/Onne ports to choose from. Also, it will make great economic sense to develop more inland dry ports across all regions, connect more rail lines, in addition to drastic improvement of the federal road routes to these ports. This will facilitate a more efficient evacuation of cargo. However, efficiency in the cargo clearance process can also depend on the deployment of a limited number of port agencies. There are several agencies (about 14 of them), with duplicated functions, causing delays in the cargo clearance process due to multiple physical examinations. This concern needs to be addressed to enhance efficiency in the ports’ operations.