Export processing terminals will reduce cost, traffic on Apapa roads – NPA boss

The newly established export processing terminals created by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), will help to reduce the cost of doing business for exporters and traffic gridlocks on the roads leading to the ports in Lagos, Mohammed Bello-Koko, the managing director of NPA, has said.

The export processing terminals are locations where exporters start the packaging process of their exports, get certification for their products and seal the products before sending them to the port for shipment.

BusinessDay gathered that trucks carrying export goods, which form over 30 percent of trucks that ply the roads leading to the Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports, are the major cause of traffic due to the delay in the completion of the export document by exporters.

Speaking on Wednesday at a panel session themed, ‘unlocking opportunities in Nigeria’s non-oil export business,’ at the 2022 Zenith Bank international trade seminar, Bello-Koko said the NPA recently licensed 10 private sector investors to create export processing terminals.

According to him, out of the 10 terminals, about three would come on stream shortly as one called Libra Terminals has perfected plans to begin operations by September.

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For the export processing terminals to succeed in easing the movement of exports, Bello-Koko said there was a need for other government agencies such as the Customs, SON, and others that certify export goods to have desks within the terminals.

“When these terminals become operations, it will reduce the traffic on the road. We have introduced barge operation, which is also helping to reduce the number of boxes or containers on the port access roads. The movement of these export goods comes with a cost that is being borne by exporters and makes Nigerian exports more expensive. But we believe that the export processing terminals will help us,” he said.

In addition, the NPA boss said the authority has also created a dedicated lane going into the port to fast-track the movement of export boxes and also given them a movement time belt.

“We understand the essence of export that is why we are working with the Nigerian Export Processing Council to integrate the dues with the new export processing terminals. We will also work with the exporters to see how this works in order to save a lot of time and reduce delays associated with export in Nigeria,” he added.

On his part, Naved Zafar, managing director of the APM Terminals/WACT, blamed poor road infrastructure in and out of the port environment for the gridlock experienced on the port access road.

According to him, the port in Nigeria cannot be efficient if there is no proper inland connectivity to the port.

While pointing out the role of infrastructural deficit in the Apapa problem, Bello-Koko said the traffic in Apapa became heavier when Nigeria started importing and exporting more, but unfortunately, use the same road infrastructure until recently when the government expanded the Apapa Port road.

“At a point, we were having between 40,000 and 45,000 trucks into Apapa and Tin-Can Ports in a month, out of which about 15,000 trucks are for export. There must be a synergy between when the vessel comes within Nigeria’s shore, berths, offload the cargo and when it is inspected by Customs and other government agencies, and when it leaves the port. Any break-in that will create traffic,” he said.

He added that the NPA deployed the call-up system to ease the movement of cargo and trucks in and out of the port, and also created the pre-gate for trucks to wait before gaining access to the port.