The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has condemned the nation’s loss of over Three Trillion Naira (N3.46tn) annually, that should accrue to the economy through Port inefficiency.
In a release issued by the organization’s Coordinator, Media and Publications, Adegboyega Otunuga, the Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said, “The result of a recent survey carried out by members of the Organized Private Sector (OPS) and the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) clearly revealed how the Nigerian economy has steadily been losing about N3.46tn every single year in recent time due to poor infrastructure, poor policy implementation and unbridled corruption at the ports, especially the ones in Lagos.
“The report acknowledged that due to persistent traffic gridlock in the Apapa area, industrial capacity utilization is currently at 38 to 40 per cent, while 40 per cent of businesses located around the port communities had either relocated to other areas, scaled down operations or completely shut down. It was also noted that about 5,000 trucks seek access to Lagos ports on a daily basis along an access road designed to take only around 1,500 trucks daily.
“Also, about 60 tank farms are located around the ports, most of which were located without recourse to the original design of the ports, traffic consideration or the volatility of the products in the tanks, according to the report. The resultant effect of this is that, trucks spend more than one week sometimes to access the ports from Lagos mainland due to traffic gridlock.
“Consequently, the adverse implications all this have caused could be felt in our capacity for job creation, tax revenue and real economic activities, with estimated downside effect of about three per cent on the country’s Gross Domestic Product, as enumerated by the President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Babatunde Ruwase, during the unveiling of the report in Lagos on Tuesday. And this has put Nigeria at an embarrassing positioning of number 183 out of 185 countries in terms of trading across borders (a major indicator for measuring a country’s ports effectiveness) on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking even with all the efforts of the current administration on repositioning the ports for better efficiency.
“Some other hindrances identified are: bureaucratic red tape, limited access to the ports, due to undue traffic congestion, constant delays, illegal charges, technical and security breakdown, etc., which have all resulted into many prospective importers to divert their cargoes to neighbouring countries and discouraged many from doing business with us at all thus, adding to the economic woes.”
The CACOL Executive Chairman adds, “The fact remains that, for proper efficiency and functional operations to return to our regime of Port operations, the country’s leadership needs to go back to the drawing board and evolve measures that would decongest Lagos Ports at both Apapa and Tin Can Island.
“The reform must resuscitate the Port-Harcourt, Warri and Ornell, Rivers State ports with some of the administrative powers returning to the respective state governments for better responsibility and ownership with the federal government and the people in those areas. Singapore is one of the Asian Tiger countries with functional and remarkable port operations that has six container terminals and general-purpose terminals and just two players overseeing their running, i.e. PSA International (formerly, Port of Singapore Authority) and Jurong Port.
“We certainly could borrow a leaf from their experience. Some of the Survey recommendations could also be properly considered and adopted, like: Policy Reforms, Enforcement of the Executive Order, Reduction in the number of MDA’S and security formations at the ports, passing enabling reform bills by the National Assembly and upgrade of rail infrastructure, truck parks and pipeline for movement of wet cargoes, etc.
“It is quite apposite that this current Administration should view this report as urgent and apply necessary measures that could redeem the port administration and efficiency in the country as a veritable means of revamping and diversification of the national economy, while boosting employment and national security.”