Importers in Nigeria, including manufacturers who bring in critical production inputs through the seaports, are breaking under the weight of heavy shipping charges, terminal handling charges as well as huge cost of transporting their goods from the port terminal to their warehouses.
Compared to their peers in Ghana and South Africa, importers in Nigeria are bearing heavier costs to stay in business, according to a recent report published by SBM Intel, Nigeria’s leading geopolitical intelligence platform.
Importers using Apapa Port in Lagos, for instance, pay about $374 as shipping charges on imports from European Union countries compared to $321 paid by their counterparts using Tema Port in Ghana and about $247 paid by importers using Durban Port in South Africa, SBM said.
Also, importers using Apapa Port pay $457 as terminal handling charges and $2,055 on local transport to their warehouses; importers using Tema Port pay $284 as terminal handling charges and $285 on local transport to their warehouses, and those using Durban Port pay $180 and $208 as terminal handling charges and local transport to their warehouses, respectively.
Jonathan Nicol, president, Shippers’ Association of Lagos State, said cargo evacuation from the ports in Lagos has become difficult in recent times due to persistent gridlock on port roads.
The situation delays access into the port because the roads to the port have deteriorated so badly that it now calls for total restructuring of the administration of government agencies responsible for building road infrastructure, Nicol told BusinessDay on phone.
“The cost of moving containerised goods from the port started hitting the roof top when it became extremely tough for truck owners to do their businesses in the port. As a result, truckers continued to double the transportation fare in order to recoup the man-hour lost in accessing and departing either of the ports in Apapa with laden cargo,” he said.
The situation, Nicol said, is imposing serious cost on importers, who lose billions of naira per day to high cost of doing business associated with payment of demurrage and storage charges to shipping companies and terminal operators.
BusinessDay independent checks show that it costs an importer about N500,000 to move 20-foot container and N700,000 to transport 40-foot container from Lagos Port to any warehouse within Lagos.
For importers located outside Lagos State, it costs between N900,000 and N1 million to move one container from Lagos to their warehouses in the North or Eastern parts of the country.
Tony Anakebe, managing director, Gold Link Investment Ltd, said the outcome of the SBM report shows that Nigerian port is losing track on efficiency of service delivery to port users as the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business policy has failed to enhance seamless operations at the port.
“The dwell time of containers in Nigerian ports is high due to bottlenecks that make it difficult for importers and their agents to take delivery of their consignments as and when due. The cargo clearing processes are also not automated and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) currently inspects shipments using 100 percent manual procedure rather than using automated scanning machines. All this makes our shipping and terminal charges high,” Anakebe explained.
Emma Nwabunwanne, a Lagos-based importer, blamed multiple security checkpoints manned by officers of the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Police Force and other security operatives along the roads leading to the major ports in Lagos as part of the reasons truckers charge high as haulage cost.
He pointed to the existence of a high number of Customs units around the ports, whose activities not only delay cargo evacuation but also result in corrupt activities that compel truckers to charge importers high in order to recoup monies lost.