Abuja - Not less than $16 billion is lost annually to congestion at the nation’s seaports, a consultant with Trident Plc, Mr. Michael Ivenso has said. Ivenso in a paper presentation at a one day National Discourse on “48hour Cargo Clearance Target at Nigerian Ports” organized by the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) in Lagos said the loss was not unconnected with the unfriendly policies which have inhibited the smooth clearance of cargo from the nation’s seaports. This is coming on the heels of the $1billion the Lagos State Government says it allegedly lost as a result of the poor traffic to and from the Nigeria’s premier and busiest port, Apapa Quay, Lagos.
Giving an insight to the loss, the state government said maritime traffic contributes over 70 percent of these losses. Ivenso who was lead panelist at the discourse said that the high level of physical inspection of goods at the ports has led to huge revenue losses to the government. While decrying the continuous dependence on trucks alone to move goods out of the ports, Ivenso said this should be quickly addressed with what he described as a “vibrant Intermodal transport” system. His words: “If you don’t fix the transport system, the port will continue to remain a storage area. Nigeria losses US$16 billion annually for not doing what it ought to do at the port”. The consultant identified some of the challenges hindering the efficient clearing of goods from the nation’s seaports.
These include shuffling of papers back and forth by men and officers of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the manual handling of documents and lack of infrastructures to attract the investors that government desires. Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation in Lagos State, Mr. Kayode Opeifa said that maritime traffic constitutes the biggest headache for the state, pointing out that congestion in Lagos alone costs US$1billion every year, out of this, maritime traffic causes over 70 percent. According to Opeifa who was represented by Dr. Taiwo Salau at the discourse, Tin Can Port alone has 1.65 TEU container units. At the Lekki corridor, we have got 2.7TEU which will be a challenge eventually. He explained that the state government has resolved to look at rail and water as alternative means of transportation.He pointed out that the state government is already developing an alternative movement of people and cargo within the state. The use of badges, according to him, will equally play an important role. He expressed dismay that cargoes meant for the Nigerian market are being diverted to Benin Republic and eventually smuggled into Nigeria due to the high cargo dwell time (CDT) in Nigerian ports. He wondered how many trailers will evacuate a shipload and how many badges will evacuate a shipload, even as he asked: “What will be the cost and benefit to the economy?” According to him, we have put all these in consideration and seriously speaking, we can do it. If there are countries that clear goods within six hours, why can’t we do it in 48hours? I employ all concerned to kindly allow this to happen in our lifetime.
(Source: This Day Live)