Few days ago, a Nigerian minister complained that ECOWAS’ free trade protocol may be hurting Nigeria. Yes, smugglers have abandoned Lagos port for Benin Republic’s. While Nigeria has issues with smugglers in West Africa, the minister may not be aware that most importers do not necessarily like to bring things through Lagos anymore. Because of the unprecedented congestion paralysis in the Apapa port, people prefer Togo’s port of Lomé.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Heineken Lokpobiri, has blamed rice smuggling in Nigeria on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol on free trade.
He said the nation’s fight against the smuggling of foreign rice into the country is being hampered by Nigeria’s neighbours, particularly Benin Republic who he said take advantage of the free trade to frustrate government’s efforts at tackling the menace.
Now, Togo is ahead of Nigeria in number of 20-foot containers transiting West Africa ports. Over five years, Apapa has lost 30% of its traffic (see plot below)!
Togo’s port of Lomé has overtaken Nigeria’s Lagos port as regional leader. Never-ending congestion at Nigeria’s Apapa port in Lagos has resulted in a loss of nearly 30% of container traffic over the last five years. But Nigeria’s loss has proven to be Togo’s gain as reforms and investment to transform the port of Lomé into a regional transit hub are starting to have an impact. (QZ newsletter)
Nigeria has stalled on building the Ibom Deep Seaport in Akwa Ibom. With Ibom seaport, one thing would happen: most containers for Aba and Onitsha will avoid Lagos for Ibom. When that happens, Lagos port will improve as traffic has been diverted. More than 70% of things imported into Togo are destined for Nigeria; a working port in Lagos will move the traffic back to Nigeria. Yet, no one wants to get Ibom seaport running.
Between the NPA, NCS, Ministries of Transport, they alone have the answer to that question. The thing defies logic. It costs me an arm and a leg, to imprt a container to Onne, than to Lagos. Even Lagos has two pricees – Tincan and Apapa. Its so opaque, a lot of clean up of that sector is needed. In Nigeria, it costs me more to clear a new cleaner and fuel efficient automobile, than it does to bring in an older car, encouraging people to buy more and more old smog belching vehicles, damaging the air quality more and more, this again runs contrary to commonsense. All the NPA and NCS care about it declaring increasing revenues, the easiest way the govt cleans out their citizens, all in the name of supporting local industries and manufacturers.