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How Nigeria can enlarge cargo base through airports

With the increased need for security from one point to another, air transportation is now the preferred and efficient mode of moving high value-to-weight products, fresh produce, emergency deliveries and products. The importance of air transport for the movement of these goods across national and international distribution chains cannot be overemphasized.

The volume of high-value and time-sensitive products traversing local and international boundaries by air is increasing geometrically across the globe, consequently creating increased opportunities for trade and economic development, especially in developing countries like Nigeria.

A recent report suggests that cargo volumes are expected to grow by 20 percent in 2021, this compared to air cargo volume in 2020, shows a significant increase even in the face of decline in aviation activities in 2020 occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic which adversely affected the industry globally.

Nigeria is richly endowed with numerous agricultural produce with ready international and local markets and untapped export potentials. The current Nigerian administration has put in place a strong policy to develop and promote local content in all sectors of the economy.

Resources in Nigeria include bitumen, coal, gold, iron ore, lead and zinc, salt, tin, cocoa, coffee, cotton, groundnut, kola nut, rubber, timber and skin hide, amongst others.

Speaking during the recent Aviation Cargo and Export conference in Lagos organised by Ikechi Uko, publisher, atqnews.com; Kenneth Wemambu, Director Of Operations, Omni Blu aviation, said problems facing cargo development in Nigeria include complete infrastructure decay, insecurity, Lack of proper transport infrastructure, lack of proper warehousing and equipment and singular air cargo operator.

In a bid to mitigate these challenges, Wemambu suggested that a well-developed freight logistics strategy should be integrated and overarching, adding that it must facilitate the safe and efficient movement of freight within the country. This he said would also integrate the country seamlessly within the West African sub-region and beyond.

Read also: Lagos Marriott Hotel to host first Aviation, Cargo and Export Conference.

“The strategy should address sources of freight generation, commodity flows, and associated data-based modelling. It should also cover the transport and distribution companies and their workforces, storage and warehousing location principles, and movement of bulk commodities, containers, and general cargo through major ports, airports, inland dry ports, transport corridors, and intermodal terminals,” he explained.

He said the strategy must cover rail, water and air cargo access to allow efficient movement of bulk freight to support agricultural regions, production clusters, local industries, businesses, and consumers.

“The compatibility of data and information standards, platforms, and systems must be addressed. This allows smooth interaction between trade partners and carriers with the introduction of modern and productive freight technologies. South Africa, Panama, Thailand, and Vietnam are some examples Nigeria can learn from,” Wemambu added.

In 2013, Nigeria designated 13 airports as perishable cargo airports, namely; Abuja, Akure, Calabar, Ilorin, Jalingo, Jos, Kano, Lagos, Makurdi, Minna, Owerri, Port Harcourt and Uyo airports.

The only airports still operating perishables today are; Lagos, Kano, and Port Harcourt.

Also speaking at the Cargo and Export conference, Rabiu Yadudu, managing director Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said in its effort to improve its service delivery, it has embarked on several projects among which is the construction of new passenger and cargo terminals.

Yadudu said first to be completed is the Port-Harcourt Cargo Terminal fully equipped with modern facilities and billed to be commissioned and put to use in no distant future.

He assured that FAAN has taken some strategic steps towards ensuring optimal service delivery at the cargo terminals by putting in place access to the Lagos cargo terminal is fully automated and the process of achieving full automation of our other Cargo Terminals is on-going.

He noted that authority has put in place electronic billing and automation of payment systems to simplify the procedures.

“FAAN has allocated spaces for development of various warehouses and captured ideal port users and eliminated touting through the issuance of identification tags complete with security features.

“Pending the take-off of the National Single Window, we are currently exploring the possibility of creating a One-Stop-Shop in the Cargo Terminal.

“The One-Stop-Shop would comprise of all critical border agencies working together from the same location to fast track cargo clearance and reduce impediments to trade through sharing of information physically and electronically,” he said.

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