The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, has said that the importance of effective intermodal transport connectivity to seaports cannot be overemphasised, especially in terms of enhancing efficiency of port operations.

Speaking at the Crans Montana Forum Club of Ports, which held in Brussels, Belgium, the Director General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, stated that effective port- city linkage systems would facilitate seamless transport systems and create immeasurable positive effect on the economy.

According to him, the quality of the rail and road transport connection to a seaport directly has an impact on the cargo throughput of the port, as this would promote efficiency; reduce cost in terms or rent charges, demurrage payment and other avoidable cost.

“The efficiency of a seaport is measured by the average quantity of import and export cargoes it is able to handle in a single day. A port with bad road and rail facilities will have low cargo throughput, all other factors remaining equal.  While ships start and end their journey in a port, the cargoes in most cases originate and end up far from the ports. This in effect implies that without the connection of other modes of transport to a seaport especially rail and road transport, the port becomes crippled and the sea transport becomes inefficient”, Peterside said.

While noting that some port managements, particularly in developing countries do not still understand the level of impact an effective intermodal connectivity has on the efficiency of their ports, the NIMASA DG told the international audience that Nigeria under the current leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari through the Federal Ministry of Transport is investing heavily on linking all major seaports and airports to the  cities through rail and good access roads to further boost economy growth and development.

He also said: “Nigeria’s government under the leadership of President Buhari is investing heavily in using rail to link both the seaports and the airports to all major cities in the country. Our quest to enhance the quality of the rail and road transport connection to all ports in Nigeria is to ensure seamless transportation of goods and services through the ports”.

The NIMASA boss argued that the turnaround time in most seaports in Africa is too high because of the inefficiency and lack of necessary port infrastructure which leads to longer dwell time for vessels and cargoes in the ports.  He added that the resultant effect is high demurrage, which is eventually passed over to the final consumer with the attendant higher prices and inflationary trends.

It was further gathered that while transport cost adds between two and five per cent to the final cost of imported cargoes in developed countries, it is as much as 15 to 50 per cent in developing countries, a development that makes the seaports unattractive uncompetitive with their peers across the globe.

Peterside therefore challenges port managements in other developing countries, especially in Africa to invest in effective intermodal connectivity to the seaports to enhance their efficient operations. He argued that an efficient land transport system will ensure that vessels’ idle time while in the port is highly minimised thereby reducing the turnaround time of the vessels as well as increasing the berth occupancy ratio of the port to make it more profitable and more competitive.