The Strategic Benefits of Developing Eastern Seaports Ports
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.
Efficiency in modern port operations can be bet achieved by establishing effectively coordinated modern technological infrastructures, such as cargo scanners and electronic call-up systems. Effective cargo scanning and electronic truck call-up system in those ports will simplify cargo clearance operations, promote efficiency, increase the of container cargo in and out of Nigeria; boost general industrial activities and government revenue.
Also, globally competitive ports on the eastern corridor will attract new investments to the region and boost opportunities for socio-economic development including the establishment of industrial complexes across those port cities, leading to a higher rate of employment.
In conclusion, while the general implications of NPA’s move to make the eastern ports viable may not be exhausted by a single article, one thing is certain. The benefit of such investment far outweighs the cost, and this is the critical justification for such a venture. Nevertheless, while such a huge investment is being contemplated, efforts can be geared towards developing the Sapele and Badagry ports, improving the logistics performance and capacity of the Tincan Island and Apapa ports. Lastly, the completion of the multi-purpose Lekki deepsea port will serve as an important gateway for containerized, dry, liquid bulk cargo vessels, has received high optimism from industry stakeholders due to its capacity to improve Nigeria’s general logistics performance and develop direct and induced business revenue of $158bn and contribute an aggregate of $361bn to the Nigerian economy.