Idris Umar, minister of transport, has said that the volume of cargo in Nigerian ports witnessed a sudden decrease, leading to the ports losing 5.2 million metric tons of cargo in 2012.
BusinessDay had earlier published the loss accruing from the decrease.
According to the minister, cargo throughput at the six major seaports in the country, Lagos Port Complex, Tin-Can Island Port, Rivers Port, Onne Port Complex, Calabar Port and Delta Ports, in 2012 declined from 82.8 million metric tons recorded in 2011 to 77 million metric tons in 2012.
This shows a downturn of 5.2 million metric tons representing 6.3 percent from the figure recorded in 2012, said the minister in Abuja on Monday during the 2013 Ministerial Platform organised by the Federal Ministry of Information to highlight the mid-term achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan.
He blamed the decline in the 2012 cargo volume on government policy, especially the ban on the importation of bulk cement and challenges that confronted the ports in the era of subsidy payment for petroleum products importation in the early days of 2012.
The minister further disclosed that before the sharp decline in 2012, cargo throughput had risen consistently from 66.9 million metric tons in 2009 to 75 million metric tons in 2010 and to 82.8 million metric tons in 2011.
Also, Umar said that about 4,620 ships visited Nigerian ports in 2009; which grew to 4,962 in 2010; 5,327 in 2011 and dropped to 4,868 in 2012.
He said that government has stepped up efforts to deepen port reforms in the country with the dredging of the various port channels to attract large oceangoing vessels to call Nigerian ports.
“There is continuous dredging and maintenance of the channels through the established channel management companies to deepen the channels and the berth areas.”