23 October 2016, Lagos – A study jointly conducted by the Financial Derivatives Company Limited and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, have shown that Nigeria is losing N1 trillion annually in revenue due to inefficiency at the nation’s ports.
The study, titled ‘Nigeria: Reforming the Maritime Ports’ and commissioned by the Centre for International Private Enterprises, USA, was presented on Friday in Lagos to stakeholders in the maritime sector during the LCCI public private dialogue on port efficiency and maritime sector road map.
Seventy-nine organisations in eight different segments including operators, regulators and users of the ports participated in a semi-structured open-ended questionnaire and focused group discussion involving key stakeholders and desk workers.
According to the report, of the people interviewed, about 57 per cent were made up of corporate large users of the ports; 11 per cent were from the Federal Government’s ministries department and agencies; 10 per cent from the logistics department; six per cent were freight forwarders; four per cent were terminal operators while the remaining 12 per cent were categorised as ‘others.’
Ninety-one per cent of the respondents said that corruption was a big issue; 80 per cent said that foreign exchange crisis was top on the list of current challenges; and 85 per cent maintained that previous reforms did not succeed.
The report stated that 70 per cent of those polled had above 15 years of port experience.
All the respondents said they experienced man-made delays, poor transportation, infrastructure and Information and Communication Technology. And they all called for reforms.
The report stated, “Nigeria’s ports have seen 3.3 per cent compounded annual growth rate in gross tonnage of 144.2 million within the past five years and an annual growth of 1.8 per cent is expected until 2021.
“Notwithstanding this progress, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report indicates that Nigeria trails far behind many smaller economies in Africa in terms of port and maritime activities. Nigeria, according to the report, ranks fourth in Africa in maritime industry by size of annual quantity of 20-foot equivalent unit in 2014.
“Specifically, Egypt ranks first with 8,810,990 TEUs; South Africa, 4,831,461 TEUs; and Morocco, 3,070,000 TEUs, respectively while Nigeria reported 1,062,389 TEUs.”
It suggested that there was a need for reforms such as enhancing information exchange on single window platform to reduce the presence of multiple ministries, departments and agencies of the government at the ports and limit the spate of human interface.
Speaking during the presentation of the report, Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry Trade and Investment (Office of the Vice-President) Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, noted that the research was timely and reflected the commitment of the organisers to tackle the important issues that were imperative for the nation’s development.
The vice-president stressed the need to diversify the economy, adding that in order to do this, the administration of the ports must be improved.
According to him, maritime sector reform efforts aimed at improving the ease of doing business, particularly trading across the borders, are of high priority to the government.
He said the Federal Government was focusing on critical areas of infrastructure, particularly trade facilitation, and the ease of doing business reforms.
Also speaking, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who was represented by the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Mr. Dakuku Peterside, assured the stakeholders that reforms were currently going on at the ports to correct all the observed flaws.
He said, “The ministry is making efforts at improving port efficiency in the following areas: electronic payment facilities to enhance revenue generation, 24-hour port operations, 48-hour cargo clearance, investment in port marine infrastructure and improvement of traffic on port access roads.”
According to the minister, the Nigerian Ports Authority, terminal operators, private individuals and agencies of the government have embraced modern radio frequency system, which automatically identifies vessels or containers as practiced globally.
In an interview with our correspondent, the President, Shippers Association of Lagos State, Jonathan Nicol, disclosed that shipping companies were leaving Nigeria on a daily basis.
According to him, whereas in the past, over 200 vehicles berthed at the ports on a daily basis, these days only two or three ships with petroleum products and food berth at the nation’s ports.