Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi

The SIFAX Group has made a strong case for massive investments in infrastructural expansion, renewal and upgrade in Nigeria, especially around the seaports as part of strategies to cope with the growing cargo volumes.

Available statistics show that when the existing port infrastructure, especially roads, most of which have never been expanded or rehabilitated were built, the cargo throughput was less than 40, 000 Twenty Equivalent Units TEUs, per annum, which has increased to more than 80,000 TEUs, thus making the infrastructure grossly inadequate.

Recall that the SIFAX Group, a multinational corporation with diverse interests in maritime, aviation, haulage and logistics, oil and gas as well as hospitality had at the second edition of the Taiwo Afolabi annual maritime conference held in Lagos called for the adoption of Public-Private Partnership PPP model in the upgrading the port infrastructure especially roads, given the huge financial obligations of the government in the face of dwindling revenue.

Executive Director of the SIFAX Haulage & Logistics Limited, Major Henry Ajetunmobi (Rtd), who spoke in a recent interview, observed that Nigeria has entered the second decade after the port concession programme, and so there is urgent need for the consolidation gains of the exercise through massive investments in infrastructure.

According to him, the port concession has brought about a significant measure of efficiency in port operation, which has given rise to increase in cargo throughput over time.

He also noted that some new policies and initiatives of the government such as the drive increasing the drive for export cargo availability through increased agricultural activities as well as harness the various solid mineral resources across the country would definitely lead to a further increase in cargo volumes.

He said: “The cargo throughput is increasing and would even increase more given the current economic projections but the port and other infrastructure baselines that are expected to drive this increase are not increasing and this is dangerous”

“The Federal Government needs inclusive innovativeness and aggressive investments in infrastructure to address the current deficits and the option of PPP might not be foreclosed given the current dynamics of the nation’s economy”.

While commenting on the perennial gridlock in Apapa, which houses the nation’s two biggest seaports, the Lagos Ports Complex and Tin Can Island Port Complex Apapa, he said that a light rail project connecting Lagos and Ibadan would take away more than 80 per cent of the trucks in the area that cause the gridlocks.

While commending the government for its efforts so far in addressing inefficiencies at the seaports, especially the recent Executive Orders and the reduction in the number of agencies operating at the ports, he insisted that provision of basic infrastructure was needed to drive the expected efficiency at the seaports.

He argued that the country must develop a multi-modal transport system that connects the road, rail and water as against the current total dependence on only road for her seaports to be efficient and competitive.

A recent report by the International Finance Corporation IFC, says that Nigeria needs an average of $10billion investments per annum for 10 years in order to adequately address the current deficit in port and other related infrastructure.

It is in the light of this that experts and stakeholders insist that the government should as a matter of urgency, consider the PPP option for the needed infrastructural expansion and renewal.