Apapa Gridlock: Chinese firm, ENL Consortium to Move Cargo by Barges

1

Eromosele Abiodun

Operator of Terminals C and D, Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, ENL Consortium, has entered into strategic partnership with a Chinese logistics giant, Sinoma Cargo International to evacuate cargo from the port using barges.

The ENL Consortium, in a statement, said the partnership was part of efforts to find lasting solution to the perennial Apapa gridlock.

The partnership also incorporates Josephdam Port Services and Lianyungang Port of China.

Lianyungang port is among the 10 largest ports in China and the 30 largest ports in the world. The cargo throughput of Lianyungang port is 210 million ton per year while its container throughput is 5 million TEU per year.

Speaking at the China-Nigeria Core Liner Conference in Lagos, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of ENL Consortium, Vicky Hasstrup, noted that the existing poor transport infrastructure in Nigeria is affecting the economic performance and competitiveness of the port.

She said the partnership became imperative given the persistent gridlock on the port access roads in Apapa, which has made cargo evacuation from the port difficult.

Hasstrup said the initiative, which would be implemented in conjunction with Lianyungang Port of China, would facilitate the evacuation of cargo from the terminals through barges and also help promote mutual cooperation and exchange between Liayungang and the Lagos port.

He said: “We have been to Lianyungang Port at the invitation of Sinoma, and there, we signed a friendship agreement sometimes in July. They also expressed their willingness to come to Nigerian port to see what ENL and other ports look like.

“This conference was organised to brainstorm on how to have a better operational logistics which is Sinoma’s core duty. We know what it is getting in and out of Apapa and discharging of cargo because of the present traffic situation in the Apapa and its environs.

“So, this afforded us the opportunity to brainstorm on what else can be done under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement other than road since their core business is logistics. Sinoma has told us they would want to bring barges that can evacuate cargo at the seaside in large volume. The barges are the types that we have not seen in Nigeria that can take several hundreds of tons of cargo at once.”

The ENL Consortium boss emphasised the importance of deploying intermodal means of transportation at the port, noting that continuous reliance on the road is no longer feasible and should be discouraged.

“There has to be an investment in other modes of transportation other than road because already the roads are undergoing a lot of pressure because the roads in Nigeria are not built to withstand the kind of pressure that they are subjected to,” she said.

While expressing appreciation to the leadership of the firm and officials of the Lianyungang Port for the confidence reposed in ENL and Josephdam, Hasstrup assured that terminal operators in the country would continue to provide efficient port services that conform to global standards.

She added that efforts to develop the port industry will achieve greater effects if strategic alliances and partnership are grown, not just between private and public entities alone, but between business entities.

The General Manager, Sinoma Cargo, Li Zhanzhu, who spoke through an interpreter, said the firm had established good cooperative relationship with ENL Consortium and Josephdam Port Services, which both handle several consignments shipped into Nigeria from China.

He said from January 2018 till date, the firm has operated 12 batches of Lianyungang- Lagos logistics line, organised and transported more than 410,000 dead weight of general cargo and transported more 2,000 TEU of containers.

The products, according to him, cover steel and templates, engineering equipment and tools.