Nigerian ports are currently experiencing dwindling fortunes, and recorded about 8.6 per cent increase in cargo throughput, while ship traffic slides 2.3 per cent and container traffic decreased by 7.1 per cent in the first quarter(Q1) of 2018 against the fourth quarter 2017.
According to a first quarter 2018 performance report released by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), through the Nigerian Port Consultative Council (PCC) at a meeting in Lagos, the ports recorded 18,729,889 metric tonnes of goods in the first quarter of 2018 against the 17,250,334 metric tonnes of cargo the seaports received previous quarter.
The inward traffic stood at 10,617,318 metric tonnes, representing 56.7 per cent of cargo throughput at the ports in 2018 while the outward cargo traffic was 8,112,671 metric tonnes representing 46.3 per cent of the total cargo traffic.
However, container traffic dropped in the period under review, as it stood at 387,016 Total Equivlent Unit (TEUs) indicating a decrease of 7.1 per cent from 416,806 TEUs handled by the same ports in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Ship traffic was also affected with a downward slide on the volume with 985 ships showing a decrease of 2.3 per cent from 1,008 that called in fourth quarter of 2017.
This shows a gross tonnage of ship 31,693,650 against 32,598,477 recorded in the 4th quarter of 2017, showing a decline of 2.8 per cent. The turn-around time of vessels stood at 3.8 days when compared with 4.1 day in 4th quarter of 2017. Statistics also showed that berth occupancy rate was 32.8 per cent as against 33.8 per cent in 2017.
On the other hand, there was an improvement in the turn-around time of vessels. This increase according to the report, is as a result of concerted effort of the management of NPA to improve port infrastructure and aid implementation of Federal Government’s Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business.
Commenting on the low utilisation of the Eastern Ports, Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, said for the Eastern ports to attract cargo, there must be improvement on infrastructure that would aid port transaction in the zone.She said: “There is no need for shippers to en route their cargoes to places where they will find it difficult to reach their warehouses and end users.
There has been this issue of restiveness in the area, and no investor will like to toy with his or her goods, hence they prefer Lagos ports where security is guaranteed unlike in the eastern ports.“Calabar port is strategically located to be able to service the North-East and the North-West, but the link roads to the area from Calabar is bad. Articulated vehicles cannot ply the route,’’ she said.
The NPA boss therefore appealed to the relevant government agencies responsible for infrastructure-related development to assist the authority in the provision of the needed infrastructure for smooth cargo operations in the zone.She also called on the coastal communities to ensure security and less restiveness among the youths in order to attract investment in their area.
Usman assured investors that the authority was working in partnership with the Nigerian Navy and the Marine Police to restore sanity on Nigerian waters.