The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), has restated the need to urgently resolve the Apapa Port gridlocks as the situation was affecting smooth business operations at the ports.
Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, ACCI President said this at a roundtable on “Apapa Port Operational Challenges’’ organised by ACCI Policy Advocacy Centre (PAC) in Abuja on July 29, 2019.
Kayode said that the crisis was hurting business as it had increased the cost of doing business nationwide.
He expressed concern that Nigeria was also losing port patronage to neighbouring nations.
The ACCI boss said that the cost of doing business in the port had risen by 400 per cent, while port users lost N1.5 billion as charges on daily basis.
“The cost of container transport within Lagos has risen from N40, 000 to N400, 000, while container transport outside Lagos has risen from N60, 000 to N600, 000. Daily overtime container storage charge is now N30, 000.
“Container deposit of between N500, 000 to N1.2 million is becoming non-refundable due to container delay penalty. Huge congestion fees may accumulate on government.
“There is increase in prices of consumer goods by about 300 per cent. Nigeria is losing port patronage to neighbouring nations. Port congestion contributes to smuggling crisis at the border.
“Multinationals are thinking seriously of moving operations out of Nigeria,’’ the trade expert said.
The president expressed worry over the development as they were happening at a time of sluggish Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the country.
He said that Nigeria had the lowest GDP growth in West Africa at 2.3 per cent, adding that economic growth could be fast-tracked if cost of doing business at all levels of the economy was reduced.
He said that the roundtable which had the support of the Federal Government was not a mere talk shop, but rather to deliberate on best practices to improve port operations as well as the economy.
“The presidency is seeking private sector’s thinking and solutions to the problems at hand. The outcome of these proceedings will receive urgent attention of the government,” Kayode said.
Dr Olumuyiwa Alaba, a trade expert, in a paper presented at the meeting said that Apapa had lost huge and competitive industrial presence with the exit of major multinationals.
Alaba spoke on the topic: “Efficient Port Operation and Port Traffic Management: Finding Sustainable Solution to Apapa Traffic Gridlock”.
He said that reducing cost and time associated with cross-border trade were the key objectives of Trade Facilitation Agreement signed by Nigeria along with other World Trade Organisation members in Bali, Indonesia in Nov. 2013.
Alaba said that Nigeria on international shipment processes component of the World Bank Logistic Performance Index, occupied 107th position in 2014 but moved backward to 110th in 2018.
He frowned at the more than 15 checkpoints on the port access roads manned by officials of different agencies and lack of effective synergy among government agencies contrary to ‘ONE GOVERNMENT’ in Executive Order one’.
While proffering solutions to the challenges, he urged the government to fix ports access roads and gradually crowd-out aged trucks, considering privatisation and reduction of physical examination and overall human contact at the ports.
He called for the implementation of e-call-up system, removal of checkpoints along the ports areas, privatisation of scanning process, auctioning of overtime cargoes and activation of trailer parks left unutilised.
Mr Ayalogun Anthony, the Deputy Comptroller, Nigerian Custom Services (NCS) noted that the Apapa Port was highly patronised than Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar Ports due to its closeness to the waterfront and security.
Anthony said the NCS was complying with Single Window System for smooth operation, adding that it also interfaced with other organisations as well.
He urged related agencies of government at the Port to work within the ambit of the laws to improve port operations.