• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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The Tanger-Med port performance: A case study in port efficiency for Nigeria

Pressure mounts on importers as clearance fees adjusted to N952

Every year since 2009, the World Bank releases the highly revered Container Port Performance Index (“CPPI”). The purpose of the index is to help identify opportunities for improving ports in a way that ultimately benefits the maritime industry.

The World Bank says that the CPPI is intended to serve as a benchmark for ports’ performance for essential stakeholders involved in the global economy, including national governments, port authorities and operators, development agencies, supranational organizations, various maritime interests, and other public and private stakeholders engaged in trade, logistics, and supply chain services.

In the 2022 CPPI, one African port shone like a million stars: the Tanger-Med Port, located in the West Mediterranean, Gibraltar, Morocco. Ranking impressively at the fourth position, just behind the Yangshan Port in Shanghai in China, the Salalah Port in Oman, and the Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi, the Tanger-Mediterranean Port (or the “Tanger-Med”) put all doubt to bed as to the possibility of African excellence in port management.

In the CPPI report of 2022, Tanger-Med scored highly in the areas of cargo arrival at anchorage, waiting time at anchorage, authority clearance, all cargo operations, lashing and checks and steam out, all of which are crucial points of activity in a cargo port call.

Hassan Abkari, the Deputy Director General of the Tanger-Med Port, further confirms the efficacy of the operations of the port when he adduced that, “the Port handled 65 million tons of goods in 2019, jumped to 75 million tons in 2020 and 101 million tons in 2021. It is a dazzling growth over such a short period.

For Nigeria’s maritime industry, the well-oiled operations of the Tanger-Med Port in Morocco, a nearby African neighbor, should be a source of inspiration. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) confirms that maritime transport is the backbone of international trade and the global economy. Over 80 percent of international trade in goods is transported over the sea, yet the Nigerian ports industry continues to serve as a drawback to the Nigerian economy by its consistent sub-optimal operations.

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The AfricanCentre for Supply Chain Practitioners (ACSCP) reveals that Nigeria loses up to $14.2 billion annually due to port inefficiency and bottlenecks. The body maintains that coagulation of ill practices such as cargo diversion, slow cargo delivery, delays, high demurrage charges, burdensome clearance processes, and increased business failure has led to Nigeria’s financial hemorrhage concerning port sector activities.

Nigeria will have to overhaul its ports operations to improve its economic resilience and massively uplift its people out of multidimensional poverty, prioritizing ports efficiency in the process. These are the ways by which Nigerian ports can be globally reckoned with, just like the Tanger-Med port:

1. Reducing Cargo Clearance Delays at Nigerian Ports:

In July 2022, the Nigerian Shipper’s Council (NSC) bemoaned the excessive cargo delays at Nigerian ports. At its one-day training workshop, the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Emmanuel Jime, stated that Nigerian ports have an unpleasant record of being the ports with the longest cargo clearing time in the world. Jime declared that while it takes six hours to clear cargo in far-away Singapore and nearby Lome, it takes an average of 21 days to do so in any Nigerian port.

Undoubtedly, the poor impression of cargo delivery at Nigerian ports, as given by the Nigerian Shippers Council, a relevant body within the Nigerian maritime framework, is nothing that policymakers and regulatory agencies related to Nigerian ports should be proud of.

These unnecessary clearance delays at Nigerian ports not only lead to the economic stagnancy of the Nigerian nation but also make Nigeria less attractive to many international investors.

To improve Nigeria’s port ecosystem and make it at par with many peer African nations, Nigeria must reduce the weeks it takes to clear cargo. Some of the ways it can achieve the 6- hours port clearance time, as observed in ports in Singapore and Lome, include reducing the number of agencies who are present at the docks, training and retraining maritime security operators, reducing the excessive clearance stages at the ports (which is about 18) and reducing the overall cargo clearance process by about 50 percent.

Indeed, once the excessive cargo clearance process at the ports can be significantly reduced, Nigerian ports will comfortably move upwards in the World Bank’s CPPI report; by so doing, critical industries like agriculture, which contribute 23.1% to the Nigerian GDP, and manufacturing, which contribute 13.3% to the Nigerian GDP will all experience significant growths since they make use of the ports in the conduct of their activities.

2. Reducing Corruption at the Nigerian Ports

In September 2022, the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network, through its Nigeria Project conducted in conjunction with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), stated that Nigeria loses about $7 billion annually due to port corruption.

The report enunciated that illegal charges, rent-seeking, and corrupt port officials contributed significantly to Nigerian ports’ dismal and abysmal nature. The report noted that “in economic terms, the private sector and the Nigerian government lose as high as N600 billion due to administrative bottlenecks at the ports and terminals in Nigeria’s.

To place Nigerian ports among the comity of excellent ports worldwide, including the League of the Tanger-Med port, Nigerian policymakers and regulatory authorities must stop the endemic corruption perpetuated daily at the Nigerian ports.

Ending corruption at the Nigerian ports can be done by implementing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) across all ports in Nigeria, implementing a Grievance Reporting Mechanism (GRV) where ports users can air their grievances if the SOPs are not met, implementing a Port Service Support Portal (PSSP) to administer complaint the complaint communication process, amongst many other novel initiatives that can help to curb endemic corruption at the Nigerian ports.

Once corruption is reduced at Nigerian ports, the trust and confidence of port users will be increased, and maritime opportunities in Nigeria will be more wholesomely harnessed.

Conclusion

Highlighted above are just two of the viable ways by which Nigerian ports can be lifted from their dwindling place of shambolic operational activities to world-class excellence, as observed in the maritime activities of the Tanger-Med Port.

Once excessive cargo clearance delays and endemic corruption at the Nigerian ports become a thing of the past, Nigerian ports can gradually take their place of pride among some of the best ports in the world, thereby improving the Nigerian purchasing power parity through seamless maritime activities.

Adebayo Adeleke is a renowned supply chain, geopolitics, and leadership expert and the CEO of Adebayo Adeleke LLC (AA LLC).