Ship traffic in the nation’s busiest ports has risen by 79.1 per cent in the last 10 years, a report by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has said.
The busiest ports in the country include the ones in Lagos Ports Complex (LPC) and Tin Can Island Port Complex (TCIP).
There are no fewer than 10 terminals handling various categories of cargoes in LPC and TCIP and they were all handed over to concessionaires in the wake of the port reforms initiated by the federal government during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
The exercise which was supervised by the BPE in 2006 divested the management of NPA from cargo handling.
Prior to the concession, the day-to-day running of the nation’s seaports by NPA was characterised by inefficiency, dearth of modern cargo handling equipment and ill-motivated personnel some of whom operated syndicates that regularly pilfer cargo in the terminals, popularly called “wharf rats” that ensured that consignees’ valuables are pilfered from the ports.
However, there has been significant improvement since the concessioning and a breakdown of the report obtained by THISDAY revealed a remarkable difference in the ship traffic in the pre-concession and post-concession era.
According to the report, while a total of 40,483 vessels called at the ports between 2000 and 2015, which is 16 years cumulatively, only 8,441 vessels made the ports under five years, between 2000 and 2005, which is before the ports concession exercise.
From the report, this represents a 79.1 per cent increase compared with the 20.9 per cent obtainable in the pre-concession era.
In the same vein, while the LPC received a total of 20,870 ships in 16 years, only 16,268 vessels called between 2006 and 2015, just a total of 4,602 berthed at the port in five years preceding port concession.
At the TICP in 16 years, a total of 19,613 ships accessed the ports under review just as no fewer than 15,774 vessels called in 10 years.
In the same vein, there was a remarkable increase in container trade. While 11,628,406 TEUs came within 10 years of concession period, only 1,955,999 TEUs came in the pre-concession era.
Within the period under review, the report also showed a shift in port patronage from LPC to TCIP. While LPC was the bride of containerised trade with 1,226,305 TEUs received under five years, TCIP got a mere 729,694 TEUs within the same period. However, under concession regime, the container traffic paradigm shifted in favour of TCIP with 6,211,779 TEUs while LPC got 5,416,627 TEUs.
On cargo throughput, TCIP got larger share of 169,446,300 tons of cargo under concession against LPC that handled 39,476,368 tons; while in the pre-concession era, LPC cargo throughput was 189,627,587 tons while that of TCIP was 19,844,656 tons.
On automobile imports, especially used vehicles popularly called Tokunbo or “Belgium”, while 462, 390 units came in within the five years pre-concession period under review, 2, 683,623 units were shipped in within the post- concession era.
However, with the introduction of the new auto policy by the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in order to encourage the local production of vehicles in the country, vehicle import dropped significantly in favour of ports situated in Nigeria’s neighbouring countries, particularly Republic of Benin.