AFRICAN COUNTRIES DUMP TOGO, BENIN PORTS FOR LEKKI SEAPORT
Following the recent completion and commissioning of the $1.5 billion Lekki deep seaport, some landlocked countries have indicated interest in moving their cargoes from Lekki in Lagos to other African countries, given the opportunity of smooth operations and efficiency of the port.
This comes as the newly inaugurated Dala Dry Inland Port in Kano, provides added advantage to Nigeria and other landlocked countries especially Niger Republic to move their cargoes from Lekki to Kano because of its proximity to most of these neighbouring countries.
Being the first modern and fully automated port in Nigeria, the Lekki port will no doubt, make it the transshipment hub in the Central and West Africa region once again. Activities of the port will also help Nigeria to recover its cargoes diverted to neighbouring ports.
For many years, the Port in Togo and Benin Republic had taken shine off Nigeria by assuming the position of transshipment hub in the West Africa region due to massive investment and development in the Port.
Spurred by many modernisation reforms, the Port of Lomé, Togo has rapidly expanded indeed. The number of containers transiting through the port have almost tripled reaching 1,193,800 20-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU ) in recent times, while Nigeria records barely rose by a few percentages each year.
At the moment, the size of ships that berth at Lome, Togo are more than double the size of the vessels that are currently passing out in Nigeria. It was reported that Nigeria’s ports dropped on the global rating, basically due to bad infrastructure. Its major competitors in the West African region; the Togo, Senegal and Benin, all deliver better, and efficient services than Nigerian ports. This has also been attributed to a downward trend of traffic experienced at Nigerian seaports.
Presently, Nigerian seaports are not transit corridors for goods heading for landlocked countries in West Africa. Togo, Ghana, Benin, and Cote D’Ivoire provide better routes for moving goods to landlocked countries like Mali, Burkina, Niger, Chad than Nigeria because of the overall cost.
While these countries can take a vessel with 16 meters draught, none of Nigerian seaports can accommodate such vessel due to the nation’s shallow draught that is not more than 13 meters.
Conversely, this made it difficult for transshipment in Nigerian Port or accommodation of POST PANAMAX vessels with a capacity of about 8000 TEU and 47.5 feet draft. Unfortunately, the final destination of the contents (cargoes) of the bigger vessels that call at neighbouring countries is Nigeria because of the large population and size of Nigerian markets.
With the larger draught, most Nigeria bound goods by mega ships were transshipped from these countries with smaller vessels.
As a result, Nigeria is losing 60 percent of its cargoes that translates to a whopping N136 billion annually to its West African neighbour of Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic.
The loss was as a result of the country’s inability to receive mega -sized ships and persistent human-to-human contact which breeds corruption at its seaports.
The birth of Lekki deep seaport will literally change this narrative being a modern port with over 16.5 meters draught that can accommodate bigger vessels. The landlocked countries have seen a better opportunity in the Lekki port than other neighbouring ports of Lome, Cotonou and others. They have indicated interest in the Lekki port and stop patronising neigbouring ports.
At the commissioning recently, Niger Republic, Nigeria’s northwest neighbors said it is set to stop patronising Cotonou port in Benin Republic. This has been confirmed by a top official of the Nigerien government.
Indicating interest to transit cargoes through the Lekki port, the Director General Ministry of Transportation, Niger Republic; Mme Tchima Moustapha said with the modern facilities available at the Lekki Deep Seaport, the country was ready to dump the Cotonou port and Lome, while they transit their cargoes via the Lekki deep seaport through the Dala Inland Dry Port.
“Lekki deep seaport is a new port, a modern one; definitely it will be a good relationship between Niger Republic and Nigeria and that is why I am here to see the place and go back to my country and give them the report.
“I am happy with what I am seeing here today, and I will make sure that the Niger Republic tries to bring their cargoes to come through Nigeria from now on. You know our major port is Cotonou, so we are trying to divert our shipment cargo to Nigeria because of this port.
Nigeria to Niger is about 1000 kilometres, but since this is a modern port and definitely I know there will be a response on time so we are going to be using it more, so the cost and guarantee will be valid,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, said that having a depth of 16.5 metres will enable bigger vessels and more cargos to come into the port with economies of scale, which will bring down the cost of doing business in Lekki Port.
According to him, the port will not only create employment but will be more efficient than other ports in Nigeria and a model for port development in Nigeria.
He said that the NPA will be the regulator and had acquired the equipment needed for the provision of marine services for safe berthing of vessels at Lekki.
“We already have interest from a certain neighbouring African country that wants to move its cargoes from Lekki Port through Dala Inland Dry Port in Kano to the the African country because the country has seen the possibility of smooth operations and efficiency at Lekki Port, “ he added.
The Chairman of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited (Port), Biodun Dabiri said: “From what I can see, in the next four to five years, the economy of the Lekki environs would be worth $25 billion, which translates to N10 trillion – an investment amount almost similar to the whole budget of Nigeria.
“I can tell you that if we focus on this axis alone, the ranking of Lagos as one of the largest economies in Africa would be better; we could move from the 4th to 3rd, 2nd and eventually number one.” In addition, the Managing Director of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited (LPLEL), promoter of the Lekki Deep Sea Port, Mr. Du Ruogang, said that Lekki Port would facilitate trade volume growth for Nigeria and increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as part of the macro-economic benefits of the Port to the economy.
According to him, Lekki Port remains a game-changer that would redefine maritime activities in Nigeria and the entire West African sub-region and it is scheduled to commence operations by the end of Q1 2023.
He highlighted other benefits to include; improvement of external trade competitiveness through improved port efficiency, cost-effective port operations and services, and improved turnaround time for cargo handling and clearance, a reduction in delays in the supply of raw materials and equipment, as well as reduced costs of importations and charges such as demurrage, among others.
“With Lekki Port, Nigeria will witness a growth in maritime traffic and global trade and strengthen connectivity and capability to provide efficient and reliable services. Lekki Port, no doubt, will be a critical engine that will drive the Nigerian economy upon commencement of operations. I am equally confident that it would help to reinforce Nigeria’s status as a regional maritime hub and enable many related industries to flourish,” he said.
The CEO of Lekki Freeport Terminal, operated by CMA Terminals, a subsidiary of the CMA CGM Group, Mr. Denrick Moos, highlighted that in addition to its state-of-the-art infrastructures, Lekki Port will become a new generation container terminal, a game changing infrastructure in Nigeria and West Africa.
He stated: “The Port is Nigeria’s first deep sea port and is equipped with 13 quay cranes for a capacity of 2.5 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units) on a 1.2 kilometre quay with a depth of 16 meters, it will operate vessels with a capacity of up to 15,000 TEUs and become one of the largest in West Africa.
“Through the new container terminal at Lekki Port, the CMA CGM Group will further develop its presence in Nigeria, the continent’s largest economy and population, and the most important consumer market in West Africa and will consolidate its African global shipping and logistics network.
“Committed to supporting its customers’ supply chains in Nigeria and West Africa with a comprehensive range of shipping and logistics solutions, the CMA CGM Group also participates in strengthening the region’s logistics and ports infrastructures through significant investments as a global port operator with its subsidiary CMA Terminals.”
The Sun news online