The cargo dwell time in Nigeria Seaports has remained high despite government intervention through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).
Cargo dwell time is the time cargo spends within the port or its extension, awaiting clearance for transportation to owners warehouse.
After three days of cargo discharge at the port from vessels, terminal operators usually introduce storage charges on the cargoes.
Study has shown, that, Nigeria’s seaports have the highest Cargo dwell in West Africa thereby contributing to high cost of doing business and avoidable delays in the movement of goods in the country.
It was gathered that, in seaports in Lagos – the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) and the Tin Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC) both in Apapa – importers and clearing agents take up to 21 days before taking their containers out of the port.
However, while cargo dwells in Nigeria is between 19-25 days, it is 12-14 in Cotonou and in Durban port, South Africa, four days, while in Mombassa port, Kenya, cargo stays a maximum of 5-7 days.
However, due to this encumbrances, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACIMMA) also raised the alarm over high cargo dwell time the ports and effects on cost of Doing Business at the nation’s ports.
Speaking at a summit in Lagos, the President of NACCIMA, Chief Mrs Alaba Lawson said the port had a low level of modern functional technology.
Chief Lawson who was represented by Mrs Flora Takim Ndifor said, “The lingering delay to clear a container at Nigerian ports still persist despite PEBEC’s intervention which is far cry from what is accessible at other African ports such as Ghana and Benin Republic.”
“The ports have a low level of modern functional technology for automation, valuation database, integrated process system and many more.”
NACCIMA, the apex business association however, urged the Federal Government to improve the overall efficiency of the ports and reduced the cost of doing business.
“Our association urges government and other relevant port agencies to put in place more effective strategies to improve the overall efficiency of the Port and reduce the cost of doing business at the ports which will enhance the ease of doing business in the country and make the Nigerian Ports the hub for international freight and trade in West Africa.”
Also speaking, a former president, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Eugene Nweke said shipping line agencies recently confirmed that, it takes 20 days to clear cargoes at the nation’s seaports.
His words, “The dwell time of cargoes when it has been discharged from the port and when it will go out takes about 20 days on the average. To them, that is a very bad business rotation for them.
“… if international best practice is adhered to, it is expected that shipping line will do advance manifest transmission to Customs and when they do that they have no issue of rotation numbers issued by customs…”
“Speaking as a forwarder, the 20 days mentioned are caused by operational delays that is caused by human barrier element so we are looking at what is the capacity of a particular port before receiving additional cargoes.
“Capacity in terms of how many cargo handling equipment are operational, capacity in terms of ICT compliance what is the level of tracking your cargoes in the port because the track will give you the leeway to prepare toward achieving cargo deliverance whereby you cannot track cargo.”
Nweke also identified proliferation of government agencies at the seaports as another bottleneck responsible for high dwell time at the port.
“Many agencies having overlapping power, for instance you see minister giving directive that agencies in the port should be reduced and they will leave and return in two weeks. So, at what time is the government firm to issue clear cut directive on cargo evacuation?”
“Also, for ease of doing business to be successful in Nigeria, the first thing is to put up a template and frame work upon which glaring corrupt practices will be reduced? For that to happen, we have to adhere to Nigerian Shippers Council Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and the procedures should be simplified.
In its contribution, the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Organisation, revealed that between 2011 and 2017, port dwell time in Lagos ports rose from 20 to 22 daycare.
Giving a comparative analysis of neighbouring countries in the ECOWAS region, the borderless body explained that , Cotonou port, as at 2017, had a total of 14 days for cargo dwell time.
According to a representative of the organisation, Mr. David Nounagnon, Ghana’s Tema Port currently has 15 days dwell time, while Lome has the lowest port dwell time with nine days.
He said, “between 2011 and 2017, cargo dwell time in Lagos ports rose from 20 to 22 days and longer days of cargo dwell time at the ports further contributed to delays in the movement of goods in the region,” he lamented.
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