Acting Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mallam Hassan Bello, who revealed this, said that Niger Republic’s patronage is expected to increase cargoes being handled by Nigerian ports by about three million metric tonnes.
Bello, whose organisation 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, told the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) on Monday that the two countries would soon formalise their trade agreements.
This has become significant in view of the huge economic activities being generated in Nigeria’s immediately northerly neighbour that has joined the league of oil producing nations.
Major imports into Niger Republic, like Nigeria, are mostly consumer goods, while the country exports uranium, sesame seed, gum Arabic, groundnut and skin.
Being a landlocked country, and now an oil producing country, Niger Republic looks up to the ports of neighbouring countries to export its crude oil.
It was gathered that Niger Republic 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.
But the NSC boss said that, from projections, Nigerian ports can do up to three million metric tonnes annually and up to two thousand of Niger Republic-bound containers monthly.
While about 70 per cent of Niger Republic cargoes transited through Nigerian ports until 2006, i is currently zero per cent.
Bello said that the NSC will drive this process 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 its 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 revitalization of the rail lines.”
President of MARAN, Mr. Bolaji Akinola, had in his remarks earlier called on the Federal Government not to politicise the appointment of the Chief Executive Officer for the NSC, saying that merit should prevail in its consideration.
Akinola reiterated his commendation for the Transport Minister, Senator Idris Umar, for appointing Bello from within the NSC as Acting Chief Executive Officer, following the completion of Capt. Adamu Biu’s tenure in December 2012.
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