The House of Representatives on Tuesday said Nigeria’s seaports receive barely 10% of West African imports out of 60% destined for Nigeria, while others are lost to neigbouring countries, adding that the country loses a whopping $7 billion revenue annually to the inefficiencies and poor management of the nation’s ports.
Julius Ihonvbare and Ibrahim Isiaka made the statement at its joint motion on “Need to Investigate Gaps and Loss of Opportunities in the Maritime Sector” at the resumption of plenary on Tuesday.
Presenting the motion, Ihonvbare said the maritime sector is crucial to the Nigerian economy’s survival, just as he decried under-utilization of seaports which, he said, can increase the nation’s revenue and indeed the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He lamented why the nation was unable to provide adequate infrastructure and reduce pressure on Lagos ports and why the Calabar, Port Harcourt, Warri, and Koko ports couldn’t be developed as a haven for importers in the region, adding that the lack of adequate infrastructure and capacity in the growing cargo and maritime business is a significant issue.
The lawmakers stressed the need for the Federal House of Representatives to carry out a comprehensive investigation in order to unravel the gaps and opportunities lost by the country, annually.
“Nigeria’s seaports receive barely 10% of West African imports out of 60% destined for Nigeria, a significant economic loss due to poor management and inefficiencies, estimated to cost $7 billion annually.
“Most ships bringing goods to Nigeria prefer to go to other ports other than Nigerian ports. Indeed the Benin Republic benefits from Nigeria’s large market, while Cotonou remains a popular importers haven, huge trade cargoes are lost to Togo and other neighbouring countries from where they are offloaded and transshipped to Nigeria due to poor shipping connectivity and shallow drafts of the port channels which lead to trade cargo losses, estimated to be N250 billion in 2016 alone.
“Nigeria’s Apapa Port lost West Africa’s leading position due to congestion and poor quality services to shippers. Port of Lomé, with a capacity of 1.1 million twenty-foot containers, overtook Lagos Port due to modernization reforms which tripled its capacity from 311,500 containers to 3.1 million, thus, making ‘Togo’s Port of Lomé becoming a regional transit hub;
“Nigeria’s Apapa Port, Lagos, which handles about 1 million TEU annually, lost 30% of its container traffic over five years due to several factors bedevilling its ability to deliver efficient services to cargo owners, this explains why Nigerian ports have remained inefficient over the years.
“Nigeria’s major seaports in Lagos do not have deep draughts to handle bigger vessels, while modern seaports in Port of Lomé have a depth of 16.60 meters and capacity to accommodate third generation ships, Apapa port operates with a 13,5 meters draught that can only allow vessels with about 4,000 TEUs of containers to call the port.”
After the debate, the House resolved to mandate its Committees on Port and Harbours, National Planning and Economic Development, Maritime Safety Education and Administration and Nigerian Shippers’ Council to investigate the gaps affecting the full realisation of the economic advantage of Ports and Harbours and other Blue Economy in Nigeria.