Lekki Deep Sea Port not threat to Lagos Ports, Maritime Stakeholders insist
NCS Unveils Command At Lekki Deep Sea Port Prior To Commencement Of Operations In 2023
By Edu Abade,
Maritime Stakeholders, who converged on Lagos at a one-day retreat organised by the League of Maritime Editors, have agreed that the Lekki Deep Sea Port will not pose a threat to the existing ports in Lagos.
At the event, which was attended by management teams of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria STOAN), among others, the organisations made their positions on the matter known at the one-day retreat/lecture with the theme: Lekki Deep Seaport: Identifying The Gains, Challenges And Potential Threats To Lagos Ports, argued that rather than compete with the Lagos ports, the Lekki Deep Sea Port will strive to complement them.
Leading the discourse, the keynote speaker and Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko, who was represented by the General Manager, Operations, Ayodele Durowaye, observed that the morbid fear by the stakeholders that the emergence of Lekki Deep Sea Port may signal the death or possibly turn the existing ports in Lagos area to tourist sites was a mere fallacy.
He maintained that the Lekki Deep Sea Port operates by principle of hub and spoke, adding that: “As a derivative to this, the existing ports will simply function as feeder ports, that is when big vessels call at Lekki, other ports will be fed with their own market share. In other words, the existing ports would function as regional ports to serve the destination cargoes of their catchment areas.”
Speaking further, Koko pointed out that the level of preparedness for the take-off of Lekki Deep Sea Port and the commencement of commercial operation in the first quarter of 2023 will be a game changer in port operations not only in Nigeria but also in the West African sub-region.
He listed some of the key features of the port including; a berth depth of 16.5 meters, the deepest in the sub-region, hosting of post-Panamax vessels, deployment of the state of the art modern cargo handling equipment including six (6) ship-to-shore gantry cranes with a reach of 21 containers and twin-lift capability.
Koko listed the implication of the above to include the level of efficiency would be very high with the hosting of post-Panamax vessels.
“Consequently, the cost per container box would be very low compared to the existing ports in Lagos thereby leveraging on the economy of scale. These liners would be encouraged to use the Lekki deep seaport as they seek to minimise operational costs to maximise their profit.
“Lekki port would be positioned to function as a hub for container traffic both in the sub-region and the LPC and TCIP which will eventually be hosting feeder vessels for containers coming to Lagos area. Linked to the above is that the expected cargo throughput in Lekki Deep Sea Port would be high given its role as a hub which comes with double handling operations.
“Reduction in the cost of doing business owning to benefit of an accruable economy of scale. Nigeria’s port system would ultimately be mainstreamed into a global port system given the competitive advantage it offers.”
On possible challenges that may bedevil Lekki deep seaport from optimization, Koko hinted that with the immense benefits that Lekki Deep Sea Port is poised to offer in changing the landscape of port operation, there was the constraint of hinterland connectivity which according to him was considered the fundamental flaw in the planning process.
Koko further stated that it was important to note that the port is segmented into two: there is the aspect of maritime space and hinterland connectivity for cargo evacuation, while attention has been on the maritime space, there is complete neglect of the hinterland connectivity.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has disclosed that prior to the commencement of operations at the Lakki Deep Sea Port it has opened an operational command to ease the conduct of businesses, as the port soon commences activities.
Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.), who delivered a paper at the event through the Assistant Comptroller of Customs (ACG) in charge of Zone A, Modupe Aremu, said ahead of the official take-off of Lekki Deep Sea Port, the NCS has created a customs command with all the paraphernalia to ensure that pioneering operations at the seaport are seamless.
He disclosed that the NCS believed that the gains of the port far outweigh its demerits, which explained the immediate creation of the command, noting that when completed, the Lekki Deep Sea Port is expected to be the highest seaport in Nigeria and a major step towards Africa’s largest economy that will break through bottlenecks in international trade and achieve accelerated economic growth.
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He also pointed out that as the first deep seaport in Nigeria it had the capacity to handle 1.2 million containers annually thereby potentially increasing the country’s container handling capacity by up to 80 percent.
“Beyond this, the Lekki Deep Sea Port also has the capacity to anchor and accommodate the biggest ships in the world and this makes it quite unique. It will constantly serve as a gateway to Nigeria and play a critical role for Nigerian commodities to reach the international market.
“Additionally, the port will position Lagos as a new maritime logistics hub in West Africa while also helping Nigeria to attain full economic leadership in the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA). It will also directly benefit local communities by creating massive jobs and enormous revenue in the coming decades. We can go on and on and that is why the CGC salutes the thoughtfulness of the organisers of the event as it will x-ray the gains, challenges and threats,” he said.
The customs boss restated the readiness of the service to partner with other critical stakeholders in the revenue chain to ensure that the facility serves its purpose of establishment.
“It is no longer news that the Apapa and Tincan corridors have become so congested and therefore, the establishment of the Lekki deep seaport will help in reducing the traffic and congestion which is very antithetical to trade facilitation,” he added.
Ali also received an award alongside some of his officers, however, assured that the Service would not renege in its efforts to ensure that legitimate trades were facilitated through several trade facilitation tools which the Service had provided in that regard.
Also speaking, the spokesman of the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Dr Bolaji Akinola corroborated the NPA and NCS stance that the Lekki Deep Sea Port was not a threat to Apapa and Tincan ports.
“As such, it is not a competition, rather they are going to complement each other. What the Apapa and Tincan ports cannot do, the Lekki Deep Sea Port will do. The largest vessel coming to any port in Nigeria is the WAFMAX vessel with a maximum capacity of 4,500 TEUs. Some other vessels even have to be lighter in some other countries before coming to Nigeria.
“When they come to West Africa, they can’t come to Nigeria first, they go elsewhere to be lighter before coming. So, all of these will be eliminated with a 16.5 meters Deep Sea Port like Lekki. They will come in straight and all the neighbouring countries that look up to us will be able to ship their cargo through Nigeria.
“It’s not only Lekki port, Ondo deep seaport is coming up. I am sure you are aware that the Outline Business Case is ready and is expected to go for FEC approval, I think before the end of this year. It has its own niche, the focus for Ondo is Bitumen export and there’s room for it.
“The Badagry Deep Sea Port is also coming to help stem the diversion of cargoes to the Cotonou Port especially, it will also have its own niche and of course, you know the Ibom Deep Sea Port is also coming. The niche for the Ibom Deep Sea Port is looking towards feeding the North East region of Nigeria. So, the ports are not in competition, because on the short, medium and long terms, they will complement each other,” he said.
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