The Federal Government is to evolve a world-class transport system that will position the seaports as a hub in West and Central Africa.
Speaking after the Intermodal Freight Transport Conference hosted by The Nation in Abuja, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Managing Director Ms Hadiza Bala Usman said the government would establish a safe, efficient, affordable and seamless intermodal transport system in line with global best practices. She canvassed an enabling environment for Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
The promotion of inter-modalism, she said, envisaged, among others, the connection of all state capitals, seaports, airports and river ports with railway lines to complement the road infrastructure across the country.
According to her, the NPA supports the hosting of the conference and other initiatives as a reflection of the Federal Government’s efforts and determination to showcase the programmes and projects being undertaken by President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
The maritime sector, Ms Usman said, remains a key sector of the economy, adding that its enormous potential deserves continuous harnessing to meet the government’s expectations and that of the people.
“Over the last two years, NPA has been carrying out a number of reform measures aimed at enhancing the operational efficiency in the various ports. For instance, we have identified some issues and challenges that are necessitating intermodal freight transport, which include the following:
- The “stand alone” transport planning and management approach by government in the past, whereby budgetary allocations in the transport sector over the years neither prioritised modal integration nor considered transport development from modal comple-mentarities point of view;
- Over the last 10 years, the container throughput in Nigerian seaports has grown by over 100 per cent while the gross tonnage has grown by over 200 per cent and in recent years export has grown by over 500 per cent;
- A report credited to the West Africa Transport Union alleged that 60 per cent of trucks loading goods at the Lagos seaports do not get their products on time;
- Apapa Port annual cargo is in excess of 10.9 million tons;
- Heavy traffic impedes business at Apapa industries and Lagos Ports at Apapa and Tin Can Island;
- Vehicles carrying heavy goods and poor drainage cause unstable road pavement;
- Every 30 seconds a 20-30 tons loaded trailer leaves Apapa;
- Every 80 seconds same trailer type leaves Tin Can Island;
- Millions of containers enter Nigeria mainly through the Lagos Ports where inadequate logistics infrastructure to match these ever-growing imports has brewed a state of chaos within the Port and its environs;
- Over 60 per cent of the containers and imported cargoes that arrive Lagos Ports exit Lagos for other parts of Nigeria Less than three per cent of the cargoes that arrive Apapa Ports are utilised within two square kilometers around the port, and
- Over 3,000 trucks line up daily to enter Apapa Ports, making entry and exit an uphill task. Apapa environs have become a spot market for container haulage, creating a mayhem as all other access routes to and from the Ports are blocked by loitering trucks looking for spot hire.
Other issues and challenges are:
- That the Lagos Ports account for over 85 per cent of goods coming in and out of Nigeria;
- Cargo throughput have increased from 37mil|ion metric tons to 84 million metric tons;
- Absence of rail links to the ports. Poorly developed inland waterways;
- The failure of the pipeline mode of transport, which resulted into increasing construction of clusters of tank farms within the port environment;
- Increase in Private sector demand for water front infrastructure and port land;
- Global changing trend of increase in container freight;
- The effect of port city on the port and port access;
- Ship owners’ response to economy of scale by acquiring larger and deep drafts vessels, hence the demand for deeper channels, bigger berthing infrastructure and modern cargo handling gear (construction of deep sea port);
- Port financing policy review (PPP);
- Port optimal and strategic utilisation and
- Envisaged Diversification of the nation’s economy away from oil.
Some of the notable benefits associated with inter modal freight transport as identified by Ms Usman include seamless door-to-door transport; possibility of transporting goods more economically in containers that can be moved on land by rail or truck and on water by ship or barge; the movement of bulk commodities in inter modal freight transport and the enhancement of efficiency and integration within the supply chain, which can be transformed into improvements in cost, quality of service and delivery times.