Geographical limitations – long channels – discourage shipping lines from dropping their anchors at ports in Warri, Port Harcourt, Onne, Calabar, the Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello- Koko disclosed.
Bello-Koko said these ports have some of the longest channels that exist in Nigeria as they are not near the ocean, and because of that, it makes it more expensive for shipping companies to patronize them.
He stated this when he appeared before the House Committee on Customs yesterday in Abuja, stressing that NPA at various times had given concessions to shipping lines and encouraged the use of flat bottom vessels because of the draft issue at those ports.
Koko made it known that NPA cannot decide for an importer where he takes his cargoes, saying that studies have shown that between 60 to 70 percent of cargoes being imported are mostly being used by industries in the southern part of the country.
According to him, shipping companies are avoiding the extra cost involved in going to Eastern ports.
According to him, “you don’t expect the importer that is importing his raw material to be used in Lagos or Ibadan to take his cargo to the eastern part of the country.
“The second issue is security, while the ports in the west operate for 24 hours, in the east, that is Rivers, Cross River and Delta states are operating 10 hours, at a certain time, the pilot will not be able to take the vessel into or outside the port.
‘’Delta port has other issues, there is an NNPC pipeline that is buried let’s say 7 meters, so you cannot dredge lower than that depth. There is a discussion between the NPA and NNPC to find a way to relocate that pipeline.”
He disclosed that the completion of the Lekki Deep Sea Port will reduce the congestion at Apapa and Tin Can Ports, and also bring in more ships to Nigeria.
“The only solution is to see to the construction of the Lekki Deepsea Port, it will be the first deep seaport with a draft of 16.5 and we are targeting 20.5. The target is for it to start operating in the first quarter of next year.
‘’ All the ships we have been losing to neighbouring countries will now be coming into the country. There are also plans to build the Badagry Deep Sea Port and the Ibom deep Seaport in Cross River, the outline business has been concluded,” he said.