Ahead of the commencement of operations at the Lekki Deep Seaport, freight forwarders have said it is important that adequate attention should be given to logistics.
In an interview with media correspondent in Lagos, the Western Zone Secretary of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Stanley Ezenga, said for a modern port to be efficient, there must be a multimodal means of transportation.
He said without rail links to the port, the deep seaport would pose a greater danger for those who would be making use of it.
“For a modern port to work effectively there must be a multimodal means of transportation. The Lekki Deep Seaport is a good concept but without a link to the rail, it will be a greater danger for those who are going to work there. Apapa port, despite being connected to the rail, still has challenges when it comes to gridlocks and congestions. One of the things that they need to put in place is inter rail connectivity.”
He added, “As it is, it is only one mode of transport and that could be a challenge coming from that axis where they have high influx of vehicles. So, what we are experiencing now in Apapa might be replicated in that axis.”
It will be recalled that at a breakfast meeting with journalists in June, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Emmanuel Jime, had lamented that the greatest challenge of the Lekki seaport would be cargo evacuation.
“The greatest challenge of Lekki port is cargo evacuation, which is what we are facing in Apapa and Tin Can ports, as well as bringing in cargoes because we are talking about import and export. We know the present condition with connections into the port. The road conditions are not encouraging, and when port operations commence, we are going to have a problem in Lekki port.
“I don’t see between now and September that anything fundamental would be done that would change the outlook and in the short term we are going to have a problem in Lekki port. The road network is very poor. I heard the Lagos State government and all kinds of stakeholders that are involved. With the way we are going about it, it does not appear that people are working in synergy to address the situation.”
Jime said there was a need for synergy, adding that barging was the only possible means of cargo evacuation from the Lekki port.
“In the meantime, barges should be up and running because that is a much more certain means to evacuation than the road networks,” he said.
Also speaking, a logistics expert, Dr Obiora Madu, described the project as a disaster waiting to happen.
“It is a disaster waiting to happen and because I understand that some time ago, the shippers’ council kicked against the approval because of some of these challenges but approval was given and nobody cared. Lekki already has a peculiar task as far as traffic is concerned. We have the deep seaport, we have the biggest refinery in Africa and we don’t have pipelines. We can’t rule out tankers. So, how are you going to do it? Not too long ago, the current executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council cried out on how cargoes were going to be moved out of this particular location.”
Madu, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Multilink Academy, said it was wrong to have the quality of facilities on that axis without a clear prospective of how transactions could be done.
According to him, “So, I don’t really know whether it is about doing the last thing first or doing the first thing last. I am sure there were feasibility studies and all that, so what really happened? So, I take it to be the usual Nigerian factor because you can’t build such a gigantic project without having a clear prospective on how transactions could be done at the end of the day. So, I think something needs to be done fast, I don’t know how fast that should be, but Lekki people should wait for trouble.”