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Nigerian ports excite Chad, Mali, Niger, NPA works out tariff for landlocked transit cargoes

Importers from landlocked neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Mali have expressed delight at the current port development in Nigeria and hinted on their intention to begin shipment of cargoes through the Nigerian ports.

Current reports indicate that importers from Cameroon have taken advantage of the eastern ports where they now transit their cargoes to destinations of their choice.

This is just as Managing Director Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Mohammed Bello-Koko expressed optimism that Nigeria is on the verge of winning back lost grounds in cargo shipment following the expected commencement of port operations at the Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos.

The operations, expected to begin weekend, Koko said, would spur the rebirth of cargo movement through Nigeria after several years of playing second fiddle to neighbouring countries in West Africa.

The NPA boss told journalists Monday that “Niger Republic as a country formerly imports their cargoes through Nigerian ports. Mali is also interested and there are other entities in neighbouring countries that are interested in bringing in their cargoes, but ours is to reach out as far as possible.”

He said: “We are encouraging the port management in Warri and Calabar in particular to actually go to Cameroon and there was a business that came to the port because of the engagement our port managers had with importers in Cameroon so we will keep pushing these multilateral and cross border agreement and where we need the assistance of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Transportation, we will let them know. As soon as one landlocked country routes its cargoes through Nigerian ports, others countries too will follow.”

Giving an update on development at the Lekki Deep Seaport,  Bello-Koko  said essential marine equipment required to start operations at the port were on ground, affirming that the port would reduce the burden on the ports of Apapa and Tin Can.

“As soon as they start operation, the clearing procedures will be faster. Also, we are working with the port, in conjunction with, Shipper’s Council to determine what the tariff will be on transit cargoes.

“Nigeria used to have a lot of transit cargoes but at a point, it became impossible to clear and with so many checkpoints along the borders, but we are working with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Customs to also determine the tariffs for transhipment cargoes.

“That is the business that Nigeria has lost overtime and the transhipment cargoes can either be by sea or by roads to other countries that was why the President gave instructions to connect the Lekki Deep Seaport To Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge to ease movement of cargoes and it is when you are able to move cargo from the sea to the hinterland that you will be able to get landlocked countries to route their cargoes through your port,” Bello added.

On when the LDSP would commence operations, the NPA MD said: “By the 15th of this month, Lekki deep seaport will have completed installation of its equipment, so we can say the port is ready by 15th of September. However, this is the first time in a long time that a new port will be set up in Nigeria.

“A port with a different system, different IT deployment that we don’t have currently in Nigeria will be at Lekki. No port currently in Nigeria has a Ship To Shore Crane. The IT system they have has minimal human interaction that you will do your clearance, other clearance processes from your office and finish everything, containers will be identified using a digital information system.

“From 16th of September, they will start dry runs and testing. They are recruiting and probably have finished recruiting Nigerians that will work there and they need to train them on how to use the cranes and how to use the digital system, clearing system and all that and that take a lot of time

“So, from our interactions with them, as far as we are concerned, Lekki deep seaport is ready. We are there when two vessels bring in the cranes and others.

“The marine services will be provided by the NPA, pilot cutters and mooring boats and so on are there. The Nigeria Customs will be there and the President a few weeks ago approved and designated Lekki deep seaport as a port of destination. It has a full complement of a Port and vessels can come from outside the country, berth and as well do rummaging and go.” 

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