The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has blamed the Federal Government for instituting policies that led to low import cargo volume at the nation’s seaports.
In a recent 2013 scorecard released by the blue-chip parastatal, the Managing Director, Mallam Habib Abdullahi, blamed government’s fiscal measures that restricted some imports into the country and other sundry factors as the authority’s operational bane last year.
In the 2013 ports’ performance report signed on his behalf by the Assistant General Manager (AGM), Public Affairs, Mallam Musa Iliya, he added that market forces were part of factors that limited the activities of the NPA in the year under review.
In his words, “Recent research revealed that, generally, each port is being shaped by the market forces dictated by the commodity demand and by the particular port user.
“The decline experienced in some products can be linked to general economic factor. In dry bulk, for instance, there is ban on the importation of cement. Also, the increase in rice tariff has reduced the importation of the commodity to the country through Nigerian ports, but through smuggling by another route.”
Abdullahi added, “The European debt crises gave birth to the decrease in Liquefied Natural Gas, many of their industries have closed down, and so the demand for our product was low. They have also discovered an alternative means of production in the Middle East.
“The petroleum product liberalisation, growth in gross domestic product (GDP) and the Transformation Agenda (of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration) resulting in increase in construction works have had an unprecedented economic impact on the port industry”.
The performance report however, stated that, a cargo throughput, excluding crude oil terminals of 76,886,997 million metric tons (mt) was handled at all Nigerian ports in 2013, reflecting a marginal increase of 0.042.6 per cent over the 2012 figure of 76,855,754 mt.
A breakdown of the figure showed that container traffic amounted to 1,010,836 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), reflecting a growth of 15.2 per cent over the 877,737 TEUs posted in 2012.
Also, a total of 291,824 units of vehicles were handled in the period under review, showing an increase of 8.9 per cent over the 268,026 units recorded in 2012.
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) shipment handled in the period amounted to 19,341,663 metric tons, a drop of 12.7 per cent from the 22,146,908 mt posted in 2012.
On the hand, refined petroleum shipment handled was in 2013 was 19,416,043 mt, showing an increase of 9.5 per cent over the 17,730,727 mt recorded in the previous year.
Dry bulk cargo handled at the ports in the reviewed period totaled to 9,537,447 mt, a decline of 6.5 per cent from the 10,205,339 mt posted the previous year, even as general cargo handled was 11,964,978 mt, indicating a 5.8 per cent drop from the 12,702,826 mt recorded in 2012.
“In year 2013, the total of 5,185 oceans-going vessels with a total gross registered tonnage (GRT) of 131,674,337 gross tons called at Nigerian ports” the statement indicated.
Similarly, in the period under review, the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) recorded 34,466,291GRT, reflecting an increase of 9.4 per cent over the 31,513,987 GRT posted in 2012, even as a total of 1,498vessels were handled at same facility in 2013.
While 1,725 ocean-going vessels were handled at the Tin Can Island Port Complex (TCIP) in 2013, the statement added that the port recorded 42,758,161 GRT, which is 23.2 per cent increase over the 34,703,547 GRT of 2012.
Unlike the two Western ports, the LPC and the TCIP, which both experienced increased GRT in 2013 over the 2012 figures, their Eastern counterparts, Calabar Port Complex, Rivers Port Complex, and Onne Port Complex, suffered drops in GRT in 2013, when compared to 2012.
The Calabar Port Complex recorded 2,792,488 GRT, a decline of 2.8 per cent compared with the 2,871,622 GRT of 2012with same facility recording 197 ocean-going vessels in 2013.
In the same vein, the Rivers Port Complex recorded 6,394,270 GRT, which is a 7.9 per cent drop when compared with the 6,929,179 GRT recorded in 2012 with 447 ocean-going vessels registered.
Also, the Onne Port Complex recorded 38,967,131GRT in 2013, reflecting a decrease of 7.4 per cent as against the 42,062,351 GRT witnessed in 2012 and 820 vessels in the period under review.
The Delta Port Complex, also part of the NPA Eastern ports, was however an exception from the mentioned trio above having recorded 6,295,996 GRT in 2013, a phenominal increase of 105 per cent over the 3,069,887 GRT the port posted in 2012. It equally handled 498 vessels in 2013.