Nigeria is committed to decongesting its Ports and Harbours to ease movement of goods for economic benefits of the Country.
Honorable Garba Muhammad who is a Nigerian Lawmaker in the House of Representatives for Sabon Gari Federal Constituency, Kaduna State, North-west, Nigeria and the Chairman, House Committee on Ports and Harbours stated this in an interview with Voice of Nigeria in Abuja, the nation’s Capital.
On efforts to decongest the Ports, the Chairman of Ports and Harbours stated that “The concept of the deep Dry Ports is to decongest the Ports, so that once goods arrive they can be moved easily to Ports, especially if the goods are brought to the Northern part of the country. In order to decongest the Ports the rail line has been extended in Apapa and Tin Can Island in Lagos State, which is almost completed, so that goods will be taken to Inland Dry Ports, unlike the roads that dilapidate easily within some few years, rail can withstand the test of time and it easier and cheaper to move the goods. Nigeria will get a lot of benefits from the project.”
The Lawmaker explained that “there is a plan to construct a rail line project from the Dala dry Port in Kano State, to Maradi in Niger Republic. Land locked countries do not have access to sea, so most of the goods come through Cotonou in Benin Republic or Lome ports, Capital of Togo.
“So I think it’s a very big move, Nigeria will make a lot of money if we can hijack all their exports and imports, it will be beneficial to Nigeria. Economically it is good. The economic benefits is to both countries and apart from that you live in peace with neighboring countries, if not any form of sabotage can come from there and there is nothing you can do.
“We have seen people from Jibia in Kastina State, North-west, Nigeria at times they even prefer to go to go to neighboring countries if there is issues of insecurity to invite security officials in Niger Republic to come and protect them.
Speaking on the challenges of Ports and Harbours, Honorable Muhammad said that there are a lot of challenges Nigeria is facing in the Ports and Harbours, some of which are issue of ease of doing business, Piracy, lack of scanners, and congestion in the Ports, especially Apapa and Tin can Island.
“On the issue of lack of scanners Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world where physical inspections is still taking place at the Ports, almost more than ninety-five percent of countries in the world do not use physical inspections ,we used to have scanners but once the companies operating it handed it over to Customs everything collapsed but now we are making effort to get scanners. We learnt that the Minister of Finance, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed have purchased some scanners to be placed in the Ports because what scanners can do in a day it will take you one week to do and it delays effective supervision. I think we should go back to using scanners, ” he explained.
On the issue of Concession, he noted that “Some of these things really militate the development of the Ports and there is the issue of terminal operators concession, some renewals are due after fifteen years, sixteen years, while some are for twenty- five years because at the time they were given concession there was no Concessionary Regulatory commission then, now they are existing, so the exercise has to be changed”.
The Lawmaker who lamented on criminal activities at the Ports said “there is the issue of touts, people just constitute themselves into nuisance and extort money from others, and there are a lot of Agencies operating there and each Agency needs to be settled before you make any business, it makes business to be very cumbersome and that is why people prefer to take their goods into neighboring Port of Cotonou, Lome, Accra and other west African countries to do business.
“Nigeria have made move to give concession to importers to move to Eastern ports of Warri, Port Harcourt , Calabar in Southern part of the Country to ease the congestion in Lagos State, South-west, Nigeria.”
Muhammad who also spoke on the issue of exports from Nigeria to other Countries said “the process takes longer time to export goods which are mainly agricultural goods and by the time you are taking them out you find out that they will lose some of their values, so a time when goods are coming out from Nigeria it will be rejected which is not good for the Country.”
Work with Relevant Authorities
He said Nigeria was working with relevant authorities to make sure that the process of exporting should not take more than forty-eight hours to avoid financial loss.