Government agencies operating in the nation’s seaports must review tariff and charges on ships calling ports in the Eastern part of Nigeria with imported cargo by at least 30 percent to encourage effective utilisation and patronage of Warri, Rivers and Calabar ports, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) says.
Speaking at a day focus group meeting organised by Obiageri Obi, director-general, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS) on Maximising the Economies of the Eastern Ports,” held in Lagos on Wednesday, Hadiza Bala-Usman, managing director of the NPA, pleaded with agencies like the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to join the NPA in cutting cost for the shippers.
Usman, who was represented by Iheanacho Ebubeogu, general manager, Security, said if the cost differentials between Lagos and Eastern port were down by 30 percent, importers would be attracted to use the port.
“NPA have reviewed its tariff earlier, and when I mean review of tariff across board, NPA tariff has to come down, NIMASA should review their Cabotage tariff, Customs tariff should come down so that, people can be motivated. I do not want us to think that addressing security alone that everything will be achieved,” she said.
Usman however said there was need for synergy between NPA and security agencies to ensure comfort to shipping and prevent host communities from interfering in shipping through piracy and other related crimes.
She identified the need for development of deep seaports for bigger vessels to call at Nigerian ports, adding that the depth of water channels cannot handle modern vessels. “Because our channels are long, it is good for NPA to carry out dredging optimisation study, which we have started.
“We need deep seaports where these bigger ships will come in because we have responded to economy of scales where these other ports will become transhipment port with the inland container depot to get all goods. If we don’t do that, we will see ships going to Abidjan, Senegal because they have deeper draft and the ships will lighten the cargo before coming to our ports,” she said.
She urged promoters of new seaports in Nigeria to make plans for Port Master plans instead of planning for the individual ports alone to forestall the Apapa mistake.
Earlier, Andy Isichie, president of the NCS, said the underutilisation of the Eastern ports had taken toll on the nation’s economy and it contributed to the gridlocks experienced daily on the road leading to Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports.
He listed shallow draft, insecurity and port cost as factors responsible for the underutilisation of the Eastern ports. “70 to 80 percent of the cargoes coming to Nigeria come in through Lagos ports,” he said.