By Shola Fadeyi
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has said that the fear in certain quarters in the maritime sector and the economy, that the emergence of the Lekki Deep Seaport will markedly reduce the patronage of the Apapa, Tin Can and other Seaports in Nigeria is a mirage .
Its Managing Director, Mohammed Bello Koko cleared the air on the issue in a paper delivered on his behalf by the AGM Operations of the NPA, Mr Ayo Durowaiye at a Retreat titled , Lekki Deep Seaport : Identifying the gains, challenges and threats to the Lagos Ports’ ,organized by the League of Maritime Editors , at the Airport Hotel in Lagos on December 8, 2022.
He said the morbid fear by stakeholders that the emergence of Lekki Deep-sea Ports may signal the death or possibly turn the existing ports in Lagos area to tourist site is simply a fallacy.
According to him , since the Lekki Deep-sea port will operate by the principle of ‘Hub and Spoke’. as a derivative to this, the existing Apapa, Tin Can and others will simply function as Feeder Ports
Explaining, he said when big vessels call at Lekki, Port , other ports would be fed with their own market share, as such they would function as regional port to serve destination cargo of their catchment areas
Enumerating the gains of the Lekki Deep Seaport , Bello Koko stated that with the level of preparedness for the take-off of the Port , its commencement of commercial operations in Q1 2023 would be a game changer in port operations, not only in Nigeria ,but West Africa sub-region.
He said this is because of its remarkable key features which include , Berth Depth of 16.5m – the deepest in the West African sub-region, the hosting of post-panamax vessels and deployment of the state-of-the-art modern cargo-handling equipment .
The NPA Managing Director, stated that the exceptional facilities of the Lekki Port include six Ship-to-Shore Gantry Cranes with a reach of 21 Containers and twin-lift capabilities and deployment of modern cargo scanners to entrench trade facilitation ideals among others.
The implication , he pointed out is that the Port’s level of efficiency would be very high , with the hosting of post-Panamax vessel, adding that the cost per Container Box would thus be very low, compared with the existing Ports in Lagos, thereby leveraging on economies of scale.
Bello Koko disclosed that Liners would be encouraged to use Lekki Port as they seek to minimize operational costs to maximize their profits.
According to him, Lekki Port would be positioned to function as Hub for Container traffic both in the sub-region and for LPC and TCIP which will eventually be hosting feeder vessels for Container traffic coming to Lagos areas.
He explained that the expected Cargo Throughput in Lekki Port would thus be very high given its role as a hub which comes with double handling operations. while there would be reduction in the cost of doing business, owing to benefit of economies of scale accruable.
The NPA MD said that the Nigerian port system would ultimately be mainstreamed into global port system given the competitive advantage it offers.
The event was chaired by Mrs Chinwe Ezenwa a former Director of the Federal Ministry of Transportation and former MD, of the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) while the Coordinator of the Zone ‘A’ of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) Assistant Comptroller General (ACG) Aremu represented the Comptroller General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali at the event.
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) , Dr Bashir Jamoh was represented by the agency’s Director of Special Duties, Mr Isichei Osamgbi while Dr Bolaji Akinola stood in for the Chairman of the Seaports Terminals Operators Association of Nigeria STOAN) .
The Acting Controller of the FOU , Zone ‘ A’ of the Customs, DC Kehinde Ejibunu , the Controller, of the Apapa Command, Comptroller Malanta Yusuf , the Coordinator of the CG Strike Force ,Muhammed Yusuf and the Controller of Customs Zone B, Comptroller Al- Bashir Hamisu , the Minister of Transportation, Alhaji Muazu Sambo, Jamoh , Bello Koko Ejibunu , Hamisu and Yusuf among others were given awards for their sterling performance in their areas of jurisdictions.