A port terminal in Lagos

Nigeria’s six major seaports recorded sharp decline in all Key Performance Indicators KPI, as cargo volumes recorded a 2.2per cent decline for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to the figures recorded in the comparative period of 2019.

The six seaports comprising the Lagos Ports Complex LPC, Apapa, Tin Can Island Ports Complex, Onne and Rivers Ports both in Rivers State as well as Calabar and Delta Ports also recorded sharp reduction in their vessel and container traffic to the tune of 6.6per cent and 9.5per cent respectively.

Statistics on ports activities released by the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA show that a total of 78.5million metric tonnes of cargo were handled between January-December 2020 as against as against the 80.2million metric tonnes handled in the comparative period of 2019, representing a decrease of 2.2per cent.

Also, a total of 3, 972 vessels with a gross registered tonnage GRT of 125.1million metric tonnes called at the ports within the review period as against the 4,251 vessels with a GRT of 138.6million metric tonnes handled in the previous year, representing a decline of 6.6per cent while the container traffic stood at 1.6million Twenty Equivalent Units TEUs as against the 1.8million TEUs recorded in 2019, which represents a decline of 9.5per cent.

Details of the statistics in terms of cargo throughput show that Onne Port recorded the highest cargo volume with 27.5million metric tonnes, which is a marginal increase when compared to the 27.4million metric tonnes recorded in the previous year followed by the LPC, which recorded 20.3million tonnes as against the 21.2million tonnes handled in the previous year.

Tin Can Island Port followed with 15.5million metric tonnes handled in 2020 against the 17.1million tonnes handled in the previous year of 2019 while Delta Port comes next with 8.3million tonnes handled in 2020, which represents a marginal decline from the 8.9million metric tonnes handled in 2019, even as Rivers Port handled 4.4million tonnes in 2020 against the 3.6million tonnes handled in the comparative period of 2019.

In terms of ship traffic, the Tin Can took the lead; handling 1,127 vessels with a GRT of 35.9million metric tonnes, which is a decrease when compared with the 1,311 vessels with a GRT of 24.6million tonnes handled in the comparative period of 2019. The LPC follows with 986 vessels with a GRT of 24.6million tonnes in the review period, which is a decline compared with the 1,034 vessels with GRT of 29. 5million tonnes recorded in 2019 while Onne Port comes third with 696 vessels with a GRT of 42.7million tonnes in 2020 as against the 726 vessels with a GRT of 43.8million tonnes handled in the previous year. The Delta Port handled 653 vessels laden with 11.9million tonnes of cargo, which represents a decline when compared to the 2019 figures of 690 vessels and 12.4million metric tonnes of cargo.

Meanwhile, Rivers Port came next with 316 vessels in 2020 with a GRT of 5.7million metric tonnes as against the figures for 2019, which stood at 325 vessels with a GRT of 5.1million tonnes while Calabar followed with 194 vessels with a GRT of 4.2million metric tonnes which is an increase compared to the 165 vessels handled in 2019 with a GRT of 3.6million metric tonnes.

Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, while commenting on the statistics, blamed the decline on the downturn in the global economy occasioned by the outbreak of the COVID-19, which compelled many countries including Nigeria to lock down for several months to curtail the spread of the virus.

She however pledged that the management of the authority under her watch is doing everything humanly possible to make the nation’s seaports more efficient and globally competitive with a view to achieving the hub status for West and Central African.

The MD cited the deployment of electronic call up system, which officially takes effect February 27, 2020 for trucks and other articulated vehicles that lift and drop consignments at the port in order to curb the perennial traffic congestion on port access roads, and thus made the seaports inefficient and cumbersome to operate in.

Under the new system, NPA established eight truck parks with a capacity of over 3,000 for a start and also developed an app codenamed ETO in which truck drivers are expected to download and log in order to be called in from the parks into the ports on first come first serve basis to pick and drop cargo as the case may be.

NPA has also directed shipping lines to develop empty container bays as part of measures to curb the menace whereby trucks laden with empty containers are parked on port access roads, thus worsening the congestion on the roads.