By Samson Echenim
As part of plans to develop the export market in view of the Federal Government’s economic diversification plan, some exporters in Lagos have called on the Federal Government to develop ports dedicated to exportation of agro-allied products and solid minerals in the country.
The exporters who spoke with SHIPS AND PORTS DAILY at separate occasions in Lagos specifically advised that the government transform the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal and the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, which are largely unproductive at the moment, to export processing ports in order to reduce the cost of exportation in Nigeria.
The ports they said, could be used for the exportation of agricultural produce and solid mineral produced in the country.
Mr Stephen Usih, an exporter of rubber products said the government should work out encouraging environment for exportation of agricultural products and commodities in its efforts at diversifying the economy.
He said, “Exportation of agricultural products being a new venture in the country and faced with growing cost should have a dedicated port outside the ports that are currently operated by concessionaires.
“The Federal Government should also focus more on improving the railway for moving goods to and from the north. Government should consider making use of the Ikorudu port and the Kirikiri lighter terminal for immediate need of port users.”
Speaking further on the need for an effective intermodal system of transportation, Usih said batches could be used for freighting goods to the northern part of the country from mother vessels in Lagos ports, but pointed out that the Niger’s depth remained shallow. He also said continuous dredging of the Niger that was not yielding results should be discouraged.
“The Niger will only allow for use of batches and the batches will have to get top the ports in Lagos to transfer loads to ocean going vessels. This is cumbersome and time consuming and will not make any economic sense. It is not a feasible project,” he said.
A top official of the Agric and Commodities Exporters Association, Dada Peters also said, “Ports that can be revived and that can be commercial viable for exports are the Ikorodu port and the Kirikiri lighter terminal. Government should designate them as export cargo terminal. As a way to encouraging export which I believe the government is concerned about.
“These ports should be designated as export port so that exports can avoid certain costs that are not encouraging at this time, which are being taken by the terminal operators at the ports where exports are currently being shipped.
“Government can help northern businesses in this direction by improving on existing railway services. What we are clamoring for is to have export designated ports. The ports can be declared as export free zone where current incentives on exports can be consolidated.”
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