Inadequate and undeveloped infrastructure, shallow water drafts, poor road infrastructure , insecurity and poor upgrade of the ports in accordance with modern seaborne trade , have been advanced as some of the factors hindering large vessels from calling on the ports outside Lagos.
The Managing Director, Hull Blyth Nigeria Limited, Christian Holm identified these factors when the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating why Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Onne Ports were not being put to maximal use, visited the Calabar Port.
He said this relates especially to containerised trade, where the requirements for sizeable port container yards and related handling equipment, are not met , adding that water depth in rivers to the ports as well as alongside the quays, have not been dredged or maintained, thereby giving rise to shallow drafts.
Holm stated that , the shallow drafts prevent access of average sized vessels to the ports, adding that shipping companies must instead, deploy smaller tonnage which cannot provide economic transportation to most shippers.
According to him, “road infrastructure to connect the ports with the importers and exporters’ places of business, lack maintenance and may often be unmotorable. Delivery and distribution of shipping goods thus become uneconomic or even impossible’’.
He said security on waterways and port access roads is critically compromised, adding that vessels require expensive armed protection to navigate the rivers, and road hauliers can only move during limited day time hours with additional high logistic costs.
Holm disclosed that the investment by Marguisa Lines and the willingness of its customers to use the Calabar Port will be jeopardised “unless the above key issues are urgently addressed by the government”.
However, explaining , how Hull Blyth took a container ship to Calabar Port on September 22, 2019 , 15 years after the last of such visit by the company, he said s Fiem, the shipping agent to Marguisa Lines, owners of ‘MN Boreas’, facilitated the visit with a view to opening up trade and businesses in the Eastern Ports.
Marguisa Lines, headquartered in Madrid , since 1990, specializes in liner transportation between the Mediterranean and West Africa. The Port of Malabo will serve as hub Port for the feeder vessel calling at Calabar on regular basis.
Its main service operates between the ports of Algeciras in Spain and Malabo in Equatorial Guinea, and connects a large network of global and regional ports.