The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello has expressed worry over the absence of the basic infrastructure like the roads and rail system in the Deep Seaports being constructed across the country especially the Lekki Deep Seaport.
Bello who made his feeling known while speaking at a one-day talk-shop on “The Prospects and Challenges of Logistics Services as the Life Wire of Nigeria’s Maritime Sector”, organized by the Maritime Reporters’ Association Nigeria (MARAN) in Lagos yesterday said that unless these two modes of transportation were factored in, in the construction of the new Deep Seaports, the projects were bound to fail.
He argued that although the Lekki Deep Seaport with a depth of about 9.5 metres is different from the Apapa and Tincan ports with a depth of 7 to 8 metres translating to the port accommodating larger vessels, the gain may be eroded without interconnectivity.
The NSC boss however warned that the mistakes of Apapa and Tincan ports should be avoided wherever deep Seaports are sited adding that modern facilities should be put in place while constructing them using the world best practices and processes.
According to him,” However, the Deep Seaport is another thing, we need to have Deep seaports because frankly, the ports in Apapa and Tincan have served their purpose, they are tired ports; that is why you have the problem of transportation. They are city ports, somehow the city met the port and that was not supposed to be, you should have exclusive access to the ports even if it is by road.
“And that was why the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has expressed worry on the new deep seaport in say Lekki, I have not seen that connectivity. We went with the Minister of Transportation two days ago to the Lekki Deep Seaport, it has a depth of about 9.5 metres, it is different from the 7-8 metres that we have here, it may accommodate larger ships. The economies of scales are obvious which means Nigeria could afford to build larger ships, could afford to be the hub centre where smaller ships could take it to any other port because Nigeria with the population is actually the preferred destination of shippers, most of the things being consumed in the neighbouring ports, they are here.
“When we design any transport infrastructure, it is important we take cognizance of what is happening in our neighbourhood because we are facing competition. We have advocated for people to bring their goods to Nigeria but it is not a command, it is a function of efficiency and our neighbours watch what we do and they improve on it.
“But I think we just do things not taking into consideration what our neighbours are doing and then there is another thing which is extremely important, I think this is the first time I heard somebody mention it, interconnectivity, you don’t build infrastructure on isolation to others. They must be interconnected. If I have truck Transit Park in Edo State for example, it must be connected with the seaport; that connectivity is very important but in Nigeria, I think we are going towards that.
So, I have expressed fear about the Lekki Deep Seaport because where are the roads and where is the rail? Are we going to use the same Lekki road? That means we are going to have Apapa again and that is really sad. So, we must insist that the loopholes of Apapa should not be repeated in all our ports whether it is in Badagry, whether it is in Lekki or in Akwa-Ibom, wherever we have deep seaport. So, deep seaports must be constructed with modern facilities as we said and using all the processes”.
He further warned against proliferation of Deep Seaport as he said that many local governments were now asking for a deep seaport to be sited in their localities arguing that though it is desirable, availability of cargo to the said deep seaport should be the sole determining factor for the project.
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