'Poor infrastructure forced Niger, others out of Nigerian ports' – Guardian Nigeria
Stakeholders in the maritime industry have said Niger Republic, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mali stopped using Nigerian ports due to the lingering problems in the maritime industry.
They said efforts made by the Nigerian Shippers’ Councils (NSC) to bring back the neighbouring countries have remained unsuccessful, as the challenges in the ports have defied solutions. They noted that Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire enjoy smooth port operations, thus dominating trade in West and Central Africa.
These were the submissions at a conference organised by the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) in Lagos, with the theme: ‘Seamless Ports Operations’. They also called for the establishment of a maritime ministry for adequate attention.
The National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tony Iju Nwabunike, in a paper on ‘Roles of Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders in Seamless Port Operations’, decried several factors militating against the maritime industry.
He listed the challenges to include lack of infrastructure like scanners, the multiplicity of agencies at the seaport, perennial traffic gridlock hindering easy access to the seaport, poor road network and lack of support for the railway system.
Others are activities of miscreants at ports, corruption/sabotage in the system, low capacity and under-utilisation of eastern ports.
Nwabunike, who was represented by the National Vice President of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto, said while Nigeria lagged in ports operations, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have moved ahead.
Nwabunike recalled that some years back, Niger Republic, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mali were clearing their goods in Nigeria but regretted, that stopped due to lingering problems in the nation’s port system.
He said efforts made by NS to bring back those neighbouring countries were unsuccessful, due to increased insecurity in the country and geographical location of the seaport with traffic logjam emerging as one of the toughest challenges.
He also cited advanced countries like the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and Singapore where port operations have become seamless.
“Apart from low capacity, another factor working against seamless port operations in Nigeria is the human interface, which causes unnecessary bottlenecks. Port operations in other countries are digitalised, such that human interventions are eliminated. In such countries, Customs brokers carry out their transactions from the comfort of their offices because the system is highly automated and movement of people is restricted within the port ambiance,” he added.
He, however, called on the Federal Government to provide scanners and modern facilities to fast-track cargo examination and seamless port operations and streamline activities of government agencies at the seaports.