Irked by the huge volume of overtime cargoes occupying valuable spaces in the port’s environs, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has called for the immediate action of the cargoes.
The Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, who made the call during the stakeholders’ interactive forum in Lagos, said all efforts to make the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) auction the cargoes have yielded no results and therefore, called for the swift intervention of the Ministry of Transportation.
Usman said the port terminals are filled to the brim with overtime cargoes, thereby constituting a huge challenge to ports operations.
“We currently have huge volumes of overtime cargoes in our ports terminals. The last time an auction was done was in early 2015. We have written severally to the NCS over these overtime cargoes.
“The Customs mentioned that they will need to pull the overtime cargoes from the port terminals to Ikorodu for auction, but we have told them that there is what is called ‘on-the-spot auction’.
“It is important for the Customs to go and auction them ‘on-the-spot’ because the port terminals are filled to the brim with overtime cargoes, and there are no more spaces for business. This constitutes a very huge challenge to our ports system and I will appeal to the Minister of Transportation to help prevail on the NCS over this,” she said.
Meanwhile, the NPA boss said it is very important for Nigeria to have a deep seaport, noting that the existing ports are river ports, with draft limitations.
She said with the absence of deep seaports, large vessels cannot berth at the nation’s ports because the depth of draft of about 17metres does not exist in Nigerian waterways.
“What we have in Nigeria is a maximum of 13metres, so very large vessels cannot come into our ports. Due to this, these very large vessels go to our neighbouring countries to berth, and then smaller vessels are brought in to offload them.
“I heard someone asking questions as to why we cannot dredge our ports further to accommodate these very large vessels. As we all know, our ports are river ports and their channels cannot be dredged further from 13 metres to 17 metres. The design and depths of our quays are within those limits of the 13 metres draft. What we need to do is to facilitate and conclude the deep seaports being proposed within a timely manner.
“That is what will bring our ports into a competitive state within the sub-region. Our ports are currently not competitive because the trend now is to bring in very large vessels in-view of the economy of scale. So, it’s not an issue of further dredging, it’s an issue of having deep seaports.”
Usman, however, noted that many of the cargoes diverted to neighbouring ports are those items that are banned or have high tariff in Nigeria.
“Items that are banned are typically diverted to our neighbouring countries and then, smuggled into Nigeria because it is difficult for anybody to bring in banned items through Nigeria’s ports,” she stated.