Lekki Port: Nigeria inches to hub status with transit cargo from Niger Republic
Nigeria’s long-awaited ambition of becoming a hub in the West African sub-region may soon become a reality with the coming onstream of the newly built and commissioned $1.5 billion Lekki Deep Seaport.
Already, Niger Republic, a landlocked country, which borders the country from the northern part, has pledged to start transshipping its cargo through Lekki Port, if the port commences commercial operations.
Niger republic, which formally brings in its cargo via Cotonou Port in Benin Republic, recently disclosed its intention to start using Nigeria’s Lekki Port to bring in its imports and take out export.
Mme Tchima Moustapha, the director general of the Ministry of Transportation at the Niger Republic told journalists during the commissioning of the Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos recently that the modern facilities available at the Lekki Deep Seaport have created an alternative for Niger importers.
Moustapha said that Niger is ready to stop using the Cotonou and Lome Ports in order to move their cargo through the Lekki Port using the newly commissioned Dala Inland Dry Port in Kano.
“Lekki Port is a new port, a modern one. It will definitely be a good relationship between the Niger Republic and Nigeria; that is why I am here to see the port and go back to my country with the report,” she said.
She expressed happiness with what she saw, promising to ensure that the Niger Republic tries to bring its cargo through Nigeria going forward.
“Our major port is Cotonou but we are trying to divert our shipment to Nigeria because of this port. Nigeria to Niger is about 1000 kilometres, but since this is a modern port and I know there will be a response on time, we are going to be using it more, so the cost and guarantee will be valid,” she said.
Confirming this, Mohammed Bello-Koko, the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), said that having a depth of 16.5 metres will enable bigger vessels and more cargo to come into the port with economies of scale, which will bring down the cost of doing business in Lekki Port.
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According to him, the port will create employment and be more efficient than other ports in Nigeria and a model for port development in Nigeria.
He said the NPA had acquired the equipment needed for the provision of marine services for the safe berthing of vessels at Lekki.
“We already have interest from a certain neighbouring African country that wants to move its cargoes from Lekki Port through Dala Inland Dry Port in Kano to other African countries because the country has seen the possibility of smooth operations and efficiency at Lekki Port,” he added.
On his part, Emmanuel Jime, executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), said the port is fully automated, digitalised, and will enable the terminal operator to render quality services to port users.
He said the port will also ensure that businesses are done seamlessly, thereby positioning it as the only Nigerian port with the lowest cost of doing business.
Ludovic Rozan, vice president of the Regional Office Africa of CMA-CGM, assured that more vessels would call at the port in the coming week.
He said CMA-CGM would operate and partner with other shipping lines to bring bigger vessels to the Lekki Port.
Businessday understands that Nigeria has lost a greater percentage of its transit cargo to countries like Ghana, Togo and the Benin Republic due to a lack of deep seaports, poor cargo clearing procedures, bureaucratic bottlenecks and poor cargo evacuation process. But the coming of Lekki Port will help to put behind some of these limitations.