The Managing Director of PTML Terminal, Tin Can Island Port Complex, Ascanio Russo, has decried the high rate of smuggling and diversion of Nigeria-bound cargo to the Port of Cotonou, Benin Republic.
Speaking recently in Lagos on behalf of the Seaport Terminals Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) during a town hall meeting with the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, Russo identified unfavourable trade policies and poor access roads to the ports as factors responsible for the cargo diversion.
He said Nigeria loses huge revenue and job creation opportunities as a result of the diversion.
“In the last few weeks, we have seen an unprecedented level of diversion of importation of cars meant for Nigeria to Cotonou. Most of the vehicles, which are for Nigeria, now come in through Cotonou port and this is of concern to us.
“For many years, we had the automotive policy which made our port the preferred port for the importation of vehicles into Nigeria but in the last one month, we have seen traffic going to Cotonou.
“The diversion is as a result of some trade policies of government, which are making the importation of cars into Nigeria very expensive.
“We all know the state of Nigeria’s economy at the moment and people seem to be desperate, so they go to Cotonou and find a way to smuggle these vehicles into Nigeria,” he said.
The PTML Terminal Managing Director asked the Minister to see to the review of unfriendly trade policies that led to the diversion of Nigeria’s cargo to the ports of neighbouring countries.
He said the diversion has negative economic effect not just on terminal operators but on all stakeholders in the automobile value chain including artisans such as mechanics, vulcanisers, technicians, spare part sellers and others.
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