In the last 10 years, it has been increasingly impossible to transact business at the largest ports in West Africa, Apapa Ports with ease like it used to be in the good old days.
In some instances, some top port users have relocated to neighboring country,Republic of Benin, to conduct their businesses while some have closed shops thereby making this country to lose huge revenues.
We need to find out what went wrong over the years that turned port businesses into nightmares.. Some of the reasons have been outlined at different occasions by port users and commentators.
Apapa ports is unarguably the largest ports in West Africa handling huge volumes of logistics and cargoes activities daily spanning several decades.
There are numbers of reasons why the ports operations defied policy from federal or state governments.
The Apapa ports gridlock we are witnessing today actually began some 25 years ago when the Federal government started giving licenses indiscriminately for the construction of tank farms in Apapa without looking at the overall impacts on the social infrastructure at the ports and Apapa routes. At the last count today, over 45 tank farms are littered all over Apapa without corresponding increases on the size of land.
Another factor that worsen the gridlock was the privatization of some parts of the ports without corresponding expansion of the infrastructure that could facilitate seamless logistics activities at the ports. While FG smiles to the bank daily on multiple charges at the ports, they refused to plough back part of the proceeds for the development of the ports to cope with the daily increase in logistics activities driven by upsurge in population in a country where everything is being imported coupled with the use of ports facilities by our neighbors especially landlocked countries in West Africa .
In my view, as a port user and a member of the Shipowners Association, talking from the position of knowledge and capacity, no amount of government policy can drive the ports seamlessly except we create alternative ports like Lekki Deep Sea Ports, Ondo Ports and many more. Better still, expand the existing ones because it’s almost impossible to drive the ports with policy but to expand the existing ones or open new ones.
.Otunba Sola Olatunji is a Maritime consultant and Member Shipowners Association( NISA).