The current move to allow landlocked countries like Niger and Chad pass their transit cargoes through Nigerian seaports will bring about a lot of multiplier effects on the economy, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, has said.
Such transit cargo, Bello noted, can help boost Nigeria’s cargo throughput in the ports, among other advantages.
According to him, moving transit cargo through Nigerian ports will help achieve economies of scale and attract more transport operators.
He explained that this will lead to a favourable cycle in which higher trade volumes will drive more efficient transport operations, which will result in lower transport costs and more competitive conditions for trade.
“In addition, investment opportunities will increase with regard to infrastructure development and other ancillary services such as freight forwarding, insurance and banking will also receive a boost with multiplier effects on our national economy. In fact, some ports, even in our neighbouring countries thrive heavily on the transit trades passing through their corridor”, he said.
Bello who spoke at a workshop on facilitation of transit trade in Nigeria held weekend at Abuja explained that a landlocked country, especially Niger Republic is disadvantaged in their participation in international trade due to lack of direct access to the sea, the mode by which about 90 percent of global trade is moved.
Noting that Niger shares about 1,500km of borders with Nigeria and with a coastline of about 800km, Nigerian ports remained natural gateway for Niger’s access to the sea.
He said the issue of movement of transit goods through the Nigerian corridor especially the challenges involved in doing so has been a long standing one.
“The Nigerian corridor was the primary access to the sea for Niger and Chadian economic operators before some challenges emanated in 1996. This situation was compounded by the privatisation exercise, which commenced in 2006 and made no special provisions for transit goods as was the case under public operations of the ports”, he said.
Bello however said that significant milestones have been recorded in the quest to bring Niger transit trade back to the Nigerian corridor as a result of continuous bilateral engagements and interagency consultations on the issue.
“These include several trade missions, the last being that of the Nigeria Port Concessionaires to sensitise Niger economic operators in Maradi in January 2013; signing of the MOU on Niger Council for Public Transport Users (CNUT) Representative office in Lagos in November, 2014 in Abuja and engagement with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) which has led to the removal of some bureaucratic hindrances to the speedy release of transit cargo at our ports,” he said.
In his keynote address during the occasion, the Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Danladi Kifasi said the Abuja workshop was necessary considering the peculiarities of transit trade which appears to be shrouded in secrecy with many people lacking the needed understanding to properly situate the transactions and procedures involved in handling the trade.
Kifasi said the objective of the workshop was to create greater awareness at all tiers of government and among other relevant stakeholders within the public and private sectors in the country on the need for Nigeria to reinforce the principle of the “freedom of transit’ and encourage transit trade by facilitating the movement of transit goods through the nation’s corridor”.
The workshop was attended by government officials from Niger and Chad, including shippers, freight forwarders, among others from the two countries and Nigeria.