By Franklin Ocheneyi
IF you are one of the Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers of the over 15,000 manufacturing companies operating in Nigeria, you have reasons to be worried about Apapa and Tin Can Ports in Lagos. Bad roads and traffic jams stand in your way of accessing and getting out of these ports.
Indeed, Princess (Dr) Vicky Haastrup, Vice Chairman, ENL Consortium Ltd, aptly summed up the frustration of port operators and users: “Government is talking about ease of doing business and the world is watching us; people take money from banks and invest in the economy but if the enabling environment is not there, it kills businesses, and I can tell you the world is watching and may not want to invest in Nigeria again because of the traffic situation in Apapa; we are talking about export, and the port is the economic base of Nigeria, but nobody can have access to the port. It’s a shame, and it pays me very much as a terminal operator that ships are there, but trucks can’t access the port to discharge the ship which is a shame to Nigeria.
“Government should look at this area of enabling environment- it is very critical, if Nigeria really wants to grow, the government should do the right thing about enabling environment.”
According to Segun Ajayi-Kadir, Director-General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, local industries are feeling the pains more than other port users.
In a Press Statement of The Organized Private Sector (OPS) on the dilapidated State of Access Roads to Apapa and Tin Can Ports: Implications for Business Performance, signed by the MAN DG on behalf of the OPS, said: “OPS is concerned about the traffic gridlocks to the nation’s seaports in Lagos- Apapa and Tin Can ports. This is understandable. The OPS has more than 15,000 member companies spread across Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines & Agriculture (NACCIMA), National Association of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (NASME) and National Association of Small Scale Industries (NASSI).
“If the problem is not addressed urgently by the government, it would erode the reasonable progress that the government has made so far in improving g the business operating environment and may worsen the rating of the country on the trade facilitation benchmark of ease of doing business.”
Ajayi-Kadir noted that as it is now, trucks hired to carry cargoes belonging to our members’ companies cannot have easy access to the seaports to lift or deliver cargoes and those lifting cargoes cannot come out of the port because of the long hours of traffic.
“Imagine a situation where it is taking between five and eight weeks for our members to take delivery of their cargoes of vital raw materials.
“These same port users now pay between N350, 000 and N400, 000 as cargo transport cost as against the standard rate of N100, 000 per cargo. This by all standards is not business friendly.
“The OPS sees no reason our ports being the gateway to international trade and flow of cargoes cannot have world-class infrastructure, access roads and facilities in line with best practices evidenced by the status of ports in China, Dubai, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, he said.”
OPS warned that if the problem is not addressed urgently by the government, it would erode the reasonable progress that the government has made so far in improving g the business operating environment and may worsen the rating of the country on the trade facilitation benchmark of ease of doing business.