NSC, Marketing The Nigeria Ports

By Stehen Ubanna

Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers Council, NSC, has a big task at hand: to win back the over 3000  yearly Containerized cargoes import  of the land locked Niger Republic and the imports of Republic of  Chad lost to Cotonou port in the Republic of Benin and other neighbouring ports in the West African sub-region. This is because of the improved efficiency at Nigeria ports and the aggressive work on Nigeria bad roads to ease logistics  move Containers  across the border.

Bello  has every reason to do so because of the closeness of the two two land locked  West African countries to  Nigeria. The NSC boss may have been encouraged to step up the tempo of discussion with the two countries to transit their cargoes through Nigeria ports  because of the overtures made to him by representatives of the Niger Republic at the recent Conference of the United African Shippers Council, UASC, held in AAccra, Ghana. The NSC Executive Secretary was said to have told the Nigeriens and Chadians at the Conference that there was nothing to worry about Nigeria ports any longer  as they would be given the best of services and affordable charges.

Hadiza Usman: NPA Managing Director
Hadiza Usman: NPA Managing Director

He could not understand why importers and exports from Niger Republic and Republic of Chad could go all the way to Cotonou , Tema and Abidjan ports in Benin, Ghana and Coted’Ivoire respectively to take delivery of their transit cargoes when Nigeria is closer to them. Worried at the loss of the loss of the economic operators of these two neighbouring countries to Republic of Benin, Ghana and Coted’Ivoire , Bello, according to sources was forced to constitute a study group to find out why these landlocked countries transit cargoes go through these other West African  ports instead of Nigeria ports which are closer to them.

The findings of the study group , according  to sources showed that that the outrageous charges of the terminal operators and the shipping Companies operating in Nigeria  played a major part in discouraging the two land locked economic operators from patronizing Nigeria ports.

Aware that  terminal operators charges and Shipping charges are high in Nigeria, the Lawyer ,turned Administrator said there is need for them to bring down their charges in order to bring back  the cargoes lost to Cotonou port and other ports in the West African -region.

The study group had cited that in Nigeria ports, the dwell time for cargoes was between 19 and 25 days  but in Cotonou port, it is between 12-14 days. More worrisome , was that after three days of discharging of cargoes at the Nigeria port, both the terminal operator and the shipping companies will start charging the importer .

But  this is not the case in Cotonou , Ghana, Coted’Ivoire or Cameroun ports, a source told the Magazine. In Cotonou port , it was  confirmed that  an importer’s cargo could  enjoy seven days at the port before the daily charges could  start reading, Ghana  and Cameroun,11 days, each. The Handling charges of these countries also differ. The handling charges at the Nigeria ports was said to have been fixed at N67,500.00, Republic of Benin, 24,000.00 and Ghana, N9,000.00.

It is  not surprising  why the land locked countries  economic operators could  easily take their cargoes where the  economics of  scale are favourable to them.  The NSC boss who was not ready to tolerate Nigeria continuous losing  of the economic operators of Niger and Chad to Republic of Benin, Ghana, and Coted’Ivore  was said to have  urged the terminal operators and the shipping companies to reduce their charges  as the Nigeria ports are in competition with  the other ports in the bub-region. He believes it is the only Nigeria ports could  attract  cargoes to from the land locked countries.

Nothwistanding , the economics of scale of Republic of Benin and these other West African countries against Nigeria ports, the NSC Chief Executive, was said to have taken advantage of the  Nigeria-Niger joint Commission to push for the return of the Niger economic  operators back to Nigeria ports. He is also urging Chadian importers and exporters, to utilize  Nigeria transit corridor for their imports and exports. He may have won the heart of importers and exporters of these two countries, going by the assurance  from  them  to transit their cargoes through Nigeria ports.

That much was confirmed by Bello who said that  Nigeria had entered into a strategic partnership with Niger and Chad to ensure that their cargoes deserted to Cotonou and other ports in the West African Sub-region  are transited through the Nigeria ports.

Perhaps the assurance from the two landlocked countries to transit their cargoes through Nigeria ports  may have facilitated  the completion and Commissioning of the Kaduna in theNorth West and Jos, North Central , Inland Container depots to take delivery of their cargoes with ease.

Ignatius Nweke, Director Special Duties, NSC, disclosed that  the Kaduna and Jos deports was designed to handle 29, 000m/t of cargoes each at the this first phase of operation.  the depots are expected to be supplied with Containerized cargoes form Apapa port in Lagos  the railway or by road and also export goods through same channel.

The completion and commissioning of the Kaduna depot, analyst said would improve  the market and exportation of ginger  and other agricultural Commodities such as Hibiscus, Sesame seed andShea Butter, to the Asian countries of Singapore and China,  United States , US and the European market.

There are  fears in both official and unofficial circles that the service level of the depots may be low, as the  Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, may not be supplying Containers to them as at when do. But Bello, the NSC boss  says there is nothing to worry about  it that it as the Council had entered into agreement with the  NPA and the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS,  so that ”cargo bound for the  Dry port should not be delayed unnecessarily.  Hadiza Usman, Managing Director of NPA, was said  to have given her words that  cargoes earmarked for the dry ports would not be delayed at the regular ports to enhance trade facilitation.

At present , NPA was said to have earmarked about 20  Containerized cargoes to the Kaduna depot which would be processed at the area.   Already, the NSC, a source confirmed had begun talks with the Lagos based shipping Companies and Freight Forwarders to open offices at the Dry port areas as the services would be fully automated  to reduce Corruption, which is the bane of Nigeria.

The enthusiasm  that had been shown  by Bawa larry Peters, Managing Director of  Duncan Group of Companies ,Concessioner for Jos depot  is encouraging.” The Jos depot would save importers and exporters from the north central geo-political Zone , the cost and troubles of travelling to Lagos ports  to clear and take delivery of their cargoes. Bello, the NSC, helmsman is optimistic that the other depots  in the South west, South east , south-south and north east geo-political regions would soon become operation with the level of works done.

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