Nigeria has continued to lose over N3.46trn annually in the economy as a result of poor infrastructure, poor policy implementation and unbridled corruption at the ports, especially the ones in Lagos.
This came to the fore from the result of a recent survey carried out by members of the Organized Private Sector (OPS) and the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).
The report revealed that Nigerian economy had steadily been losing the sum every single year due to several factors including unbridled corruption at the ports.
According to the report, 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.
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 neighboring countries and discouraged many from doing business with us at all thus, adding to the economic woes.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has condemned the revelation, insisting that for proper efficiency and functional operations to return to port operations, the country’s leadership must evolve measures to decongest the Lagos ports at both Apapa and Tin Can Island.
The Executive Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, said that 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.
The anti-corruption agents noted that while 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, we certainly could borrow a leaf from their experience.
Adeniran told The News Chronicle that 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”, they coalition said.