The African Centre for Supply Chain (ACSC), has stated that the Lekki Deep Sea Port, which is expected to commence operation by the end of this year, will checkmate the congestion at Nigerian existing ports that is negatively impacting the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), leading to a loss of $14.2 billion yearly.
This, the ACSC stated, is aside from other bottlenecks, which include the nonchalant attitude among truckers, congestion of trucks within the ports and cargo congestion at terminals due to trade imbalance, weak technology application, non-implementation of 24-hour port operations, manual cargo examination by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and low-capacity utilisation by terminals, congestion emanating from public holidays, and short working hours that are unquantifiable in terms of naira and Kobo.
According to ACSC, “There is no gainsaying that seaports are vital for economic development, a typical example is Nigeria’s closest neighbours, Togo, Ghana and the Republic of Benin who has taken advantage of Nigeria’s weak and ineffective port operations to put their countries on the right track for economic prosperity.
The volumes of cargo handled at Nigeria’s seaports dropped to 78.4 million metric tonnes in 2020 from 80.2 million metric tonnes recorded in 2019. This represents a decline of 2.24 per cent.
“Nigerian ports recorded a decline in ship traffic as a total of 3,972 ships called in 2020 as against 4,251 in 2019. In the year 2020, the nation’s busiest port, Apapa Port received 632,148 TEUs of container traffic compared to 668,672 TEUs received in 2019 while the nation’s second-busiest port, Tin Can Island Port, received 650,365 TEUs of containers in 2020 compared to 820,942 TEUs of containers in 2019. For Onne port, 266,109 TEUs of containers arrived in 2020 compared to 247,528 TEUs in 2019. In Rivers port, 91,971 TEUs of containers arrived in 2020 compared to 71,020 TEUs in 2019. At Calabar port, 1,561TEUs of containers arrived in 2020 compared to 174 in 2019.
“Be that as it may, all hope is not lost as the Lekki deep seaport scheduled to begin operations in the last quarter of 2022 is expected to be the game-changer for Nigeria’s quest to achieve economic growth and development. When completed, the $1.53 billion Lekki Port with 16.5 meters draught and 1,523 meters of quay wall, rated the deepest in Africa, will no doubt help Nigeria regain its maritime hub status both in West and Central Africa, “ACSC added.
Speaking during a visit to Lekki port recently, the Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the Lekki port would also be a big boost for Nigeria in its quest to take advantage of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
He explained that over $201 billion in taxes, royalties and duties would be generated for the Nigerian government when the port commences operations while an aggregate impact of the Lekki deep seaport put at $361 billion dollars in 45 years would be over 200 times the cost of building the port.
In his words: “The Lekki deep seaport is a game-changer because of the impact it would have on the nation’s economy when completed. The investment is huge: 1.53 billion dollars on fixed assets and 800 million dollars on construction. In addition, it will create 169,972 jobs and bring revenues totalling 201 billion dollars to state and federal governments through taxes, royalties and duties. The direct and induced business revenue impact is estimated at 158 billion dollars, in addition to a qualitative impact on manufacturing, trade and commercial services sector.”