Nigeria risk loosing a whopping N136billion supposed earning from transit cargoes to neighbouring landlocked countries in West Africa to Cote D’ivoire by 2021, checks by Leadership revealed.
This is just as a French-owned seaport development and terminal handling giant, Bollore, and APM Terminals have signed contracts with the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) for the construction of Abidjan’s second container terminal, known as Côte D’Ivoire Terminal (CIT).
The Cote D’Ivoires’ Ports Authority’s planned ultra-modern second container terminal is however billed to start operations at the next year.
When it becomes operational, the port will attract Nigeria’s cargo trans-shipment business with landlocked West African countries worth over N136billion annually to the port in Cote d’Ivoire.
APM Terminals expects that with the additional capacity provided by CIT, the terminal and the Port of Abidjan will position itself as a preferred gateway for surrounding landlocked countries such as Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
Cargoes destined to these landlocked countries are currently routed through Nigerian seaports but the developer believes the terminal’s strategic location on the West African coast combined with the ability to handle larger new-generation ships of up to 14,000 TEU and 350m in length will make the terminal an attractive solution as a trans- shipment hub.
A joint venture between Bolloré and APM Terminals will invest approximately $475million to construct and equip the new Côte d’Ivoire Terminal (CIT).
The joint venture, which has a 20-year concession to operate the new terminal, recently signed contracts with the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) for the construction of Abidjan’s second container terminal.
However, Nigerian maritime stakeholders have attributed lack of infrastructure, chaotic port access roads, absence of deep seaports and Nigerian port inefficiencies such as large
Buhari turnaround time of vessels, insecurity on waters, and high cargo dwell time as reasons why multinational shipping companies are abandoning Nigerian ports to build alternative ones at neighbouring countries.
According to SBM report, it is more expensive to ship goods from the European Union to Nigeria, compared to other African countries like Ghana and South Africa.
The report which took three months to compile and analyse revealed early in the first quarter that South Africa’s Durban Harbour is the least expensive in terms of shipping charges, terminal charges, and the cost of transporting goods to local warehouses.
In the same vein, the Tema Port in Ghana is less expensive compared to what obtains at Nigeria’s Apapa Port.
The report chillingly revealed that Apapa Port is five times more expensive than Durban Harbour and three times more expensive than Tema Port.
Part of the report reads: “SBM tracked shipments over a period of three months to three ports in Africa and came up with this average costs of first, shipping goods in from the EU, the terminal charges that containers pay while they are in those ports, and the average cost of local transportation from the port to selected warehouses within the port cities.
“The costs for the Apapa Port in Lagos are by far the highest, five times higher than in Durban, South Africa, and three times higher than in Tema, Ghana. While each of the component parts of this dataset, shipping charges, terminal charges and local transport, are highest for Lagos, it is local transport, 10 times the cost in Lagos than in both Durban and Tema, that really makes Lagos an expensive place to do business in.”
The SBM report went further to reveal that at the Apapa Port, importers spend an average of $374 in shipping charges.
This is far more than the $247 importers pay at the Durban Harbour for the same purpose, while at the Tema Port the average shipping cost is $321.
In terms of terminal charges, people shipping goods through Nigeria’s Apapa Port pay an average of $457 compared to $180 average costs at the Durban Harbour and $280 at Tema Port.
When transporting imported goods from Apapa Port to local warehouses, businesses spend an average cost of $2,050.
This is far more than the $208 it costs to transport containers from Durban Harbour to South African warehouses.
In Ghana, it costs just $285 to transport containers to local Ghanaian warehouses.
This, perhaps, explains why there is always heavy congestion at the Apapa Port which serves as Nigeria’s main port.
The SBM report also raised questions about Nigeria’s ease of doing business.
However, corroborating the SBM report, the chairman of the Port Consultative Council (PCC), Otunba Kunle Folarin, stated that building a commercial decision will aid the convenience and profit margin of the companies.
Folarin noted that lack of 24 hours port operation and the delayed waiting time for vessels at Nigerian seaports may have contributed to the decision of making Ivory Coast the hub in West Africa.
He said, “When you look at the operational competence, is Nigeria operating 24/7 piloting service? Do we work round the clock in Nigeria Port? Look at what is the waiting time for Nigeria ships.
“So, these are the parameters for a hub status. Hub status is where you have a very efficient and round working. Can you compare Abidjan Port corridor with your own here? how long will it take one container to be returned for export, from Oshodi to Tincan?
“So you got to look at the total logistics solutions that you have, how do you move your cargo from the port? Is it by trucks, or by rail or by barge? You got to look at the whole solution that is available in Cote- d Voire. So, a hub status must provide all those things, it must provide all the solutions that will need to optimize your operation”.
He also noted that lack of export commodity from the country may be another factor that necessitated the decision of the largest shipping firm to move its hub to the tiny West African country.
He said, “What they took is a commercial decision and as a result of that, they decided to move a hub, by definition, a place where all shipping lines and logistics solutions are located, and the condition must have been very appropriate for that decision. Maersk line decided to go to Ivory Coast because that is their interchanging position.
“If you compared Nigeria to Cote d voire in terms of volume output, in terms of containers stations, in terms of export, Cote d’ivoire ranks higher above Nigeria.
“Do we do any export commodity to the level of Ivory Coast? Ivory Coast is the leading cocoa exporter in Africa. When ships go to a place, they don’t want to return empty, you have to consider the inward and outward traffic.
“What is the outward traffic you get in Nigeria for non-oil cargo? So, that’s the first thing you have to look at; the volume of import and export, the inward and outward cargo. Ivory Coast export timber, they export cocoa, those are very prominent exports apart from coffees. If you look at the freight they earn from export why should they come here and leave empty.”