As part of the efforts of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to further decongest the traffic gridlock on Apapa port axis, the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, in February this year flagged off the first export consignment of manganese, a solid mineral resource from the Ikorodu lighter terminal to Apapa port.
This initiative, the Authority said, had since resulted in the movement of almost 2,000 truck equivalents of containers and other bulk cargos from Apapa port access road by leading FMCG trading and manufacturing companies moving goods mainly of solid minerals and agro commodity exports.
Since then, the operations at the terminal have been on the high, according to NPA.
In 2017, the estimated cargo throughput in Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports, according to reports from the NPA, was put at 67 per cent of the overall country’s’ imports and exports.
The report stated that the Lagos State ports, being the preferred ports, have been faced with the problem of delay in cargo evacuation, which has led to port congestion and huge traffic queues.
It was also noted in the report that several times, ‘cosmetic’ attempts have been made to clear the Apapa traffic, but as soon as the media attention dies down, the gridlock creeps back. “It is estimated that the economy loses about N20 billion daily due to the gridlock, which is the country’s premier port,” it said.
According to the Managing Director of Connect Maritime Services Limited, Edeme Kelikume, embracing intermodal logistic solutions such as the barge services moving cargo to and from Apapa to NPA Ikorodu Lighter Terminal would significantly contribute to solving part of the chaotic traffic situation currently been experienced in the state.
Figures from the NPA, the report noted, shows that container traffic statistics at the country’s sea ports have more than tripled since 2007.
Kelikume said: “This ordinarily should be good news as it is an indication that the economy is expanding. However, in the case of Nigeria, this has become a challenge because the infrastructure to support this growth in cargo has actually deteriorated.”
He added that globally, Nigeria is no longer a desired shipping destination because of the longer turnaround time for ships coming to the country.
“A 2018 overseas cargo and freight costs template showing the cost of shipping cargo from the United States to other destinations shows that cargo and freight costs from the New York to Nigeria are about the highest globally.
For instance, cargo and freight costs of a 20 feet container from New York to Apapa Port is $4,982 almost twice the cost of the same 20 feet container to South Africa which will cost just US$2,542. For a 40 feet container, the cost is US$7,436, which is almost twice the cost to ship a similar container to South Africa,” he stated.