Nigeria is eagerly expecting landlocked Niger Republic to resume importing and exporting the cargoes through Nigerian ports again after several years hiatus.
Acting Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mallam Hassan Bello, said that Niger Republic’s patronage is expected to increase cargoes being handled by Nigerian ports by about three million metric tonnes.
The NSC recently led a trade delegation made up of port concessionaires, port administrators, government officials and other shipping service providers to Niger Republic on the behest of the Federal Ministry of Transport.
Both countries, according to Bello, would soon formalise their trade agreements.
The visit of the Nigerian trade delegation to Niger Republic, and the impending initialing of the nations’ agreements are significant, in view of the huge economic activities being generated in Nigeria’s immediate northerly neighbour that has joined the league of oil producing nations.
Niger Republic, it was gathered, is currently doing about 2.5 million metric tonnes in Benin Republic, 1.5 million metric tonnes in Togo, and close to a million metric tonnes in Ghana.
From projections, according to the NSC boss, Nigerian ports can do up to three million metric tonnes annually and up to two thousand of Niger Republic-bound containers monthly.
These are tidy trade exploits, if only Nigeria can can actualise them. For while about 70 per cent of Niger Republic’s cargoes transited through Nigerian ports until 2006, it is currently zero per cent.
Bello said that the NSC will drive the process of Nigerian ports regaining the bulk of Nigerien cargoes to a conclusion, and has, according to him, engaged all the relevant stakeholders, including the Nigerien shippers, who are now ready to use ports in Nigeria, especially now that “the Federal Government returned efficiency to the ports when it concession the ports. Niger Republic is now about to transport its cargo through Nigeria.”
He said: “Niger and Chad were importing through Nigerian ports but the inefficiency prior to the port concession of 2006 led them to move to Ghana, and other countries, where impediments was almost none existent compared to Nigeria.
“Efficiency is a function of competition. No matter how near you are, people want to get their goods in time. Time is money in shipping. So, because of the internal impediments and roadblocks, there are more roadblocks from Nigeria to Niger Republic than from Burkina Faso to Niger Republic. They changed. It was an economic decision.”
He noted also that Calabar and Port -Harcourt ports, currently under-patronised, are being considered for the handling of chemicals.
This, according to Bello “will give Nigeria the economic advantage, it will cement the long relationship between Niger and Nigeria, also it is a prestigious thing to see that Niger is now trying to import goods through Nigeria. This will be cemented with the revitalisation of the rail lines.”
We can only keep our fingers crossed, and our breath bated, as we anxiously hope that Nigeria’s effort to regain her lost position as the premier port for Nigerien cargoes turns out a reality.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.