Landlocked countries pulling out of business a new sign of decline in Nigeria’s maritime

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Nigeria is blessed with numerous resources across all boards, albeit poorly utilized. One of such resources is the country’s maritime. A coastline that spans over 800km and a maritime area of over 40,000 km, Nigeria should be a heavyweight in the maritime world, but it unfortunately been unable maximise its potentials in this area. As a result of this mismanagement Nigeria has not recorded growth in economic development from its maritime resources. Although the current administration has been hammering on diversification, not enough effort has been made to improve and therefore harness the blue economy.

Presently, Nigeria is not doing any transit as landlocked countries have pulled out from doing business in the country due to bottlenecks in its ports system, bad roads network, cumbersome transit procedures, inefficient logistics systems and poor infrastructure, which substantially increase the cost of doing business.

Now, no cargo transit through Nigeria even though Nigeria have a border with landlocked countries of Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mali that are supposed to be using Nigeria’s corridor for operations. But importers are going to Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire because of their efficient procedures.

Invariably, Nigeria has lost its transit potential to Ghana, Benin Republic and Cote d’ Ivoire.

The problems in the Nigerian ports are enormous. It takes almost two weeks for one to enter Apapa and Tin Can Island ports and another two weeks to come out, one month to just process goods. In neighbouring Benin Republic and Ghana the same process takes a couple of days. That is just one in the numerous problems of the Nigerian ports; importers also have to take into consideration all the illegal charges before their goods can be cleared.

Meanwhile Ghana has now expanded its ports making it more efficient and cost effective for traders and importers. Countries without access to the sea now prefer to come through Benin Republic and Ghana because they make their ports cheaper at the expense of Nigeria.

The situation at the borders is not so different either, Seme- the border that separates Nigeria from Benin Republic provides a perfect example. On the Benin side of the border cargo trucks are lined up as far as the eye can see, waiting assessment and clearance into Nigeria. The Nigerian side of the same border is very different, as not a single truck is found waiting assessment.

The President of National Council of Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Agents (NCMDCLA), Lucky Amiwero, said talking about landlocked countries, Nigeria is a transit country but is being delisted as a transit nation. Adding that “Nigeria is not recognised as a transit nation because there is no transit operations going through the system again.

He explained: “Niger Republic, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mali are very close to us. These are landlocked countries. Even Cameroon and Port Novo used to rely on Nigeria in those days and patronizing them, but they are now losing their facility. So the landlocked countries cannot use Nigeria’s facilities when our import and export are now in shambles. Our transit has cumbersome and lengthy procedures.

“These problems are caused by our regimes. As at now, we are not able to harmonize our system and our procedures are archaic when Ghana, for instance, has a satellite tracking system. They track their transit and exit Ghana. Ghana has an in bond process, which is national guaranteed bond.

Nigeria doesn’t have anything and we are still operating the 1949 system.”

For Nigeria to regain its potential as maritime hub, he said there is need to reform port system completely by experts not those who doesn’t understand what customs is all about. He added that there is need to regig the system for Nigeria import and export system and its transit regulatory procedures in order to meet up.

“For instance, Nigeria is ranked 183 out of 190 countries on trade across border, which transit fall under. So Nigeria actually has no transit facility, has no transit procedure and has nothing to do with transit because all what we are doing is not in compliance with any of the procedures. All we do is an imposition. We are all thinking about revenue and we have lost our transit, transshipment and domestic cargo.”

He said the three layers of cargo that Nigeria has, which include transit, transshipment and domestic input that coming into the country are being shared between Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Togo, Benin Republic and Ghana. He added that Nigeria has the market and throughput that being shared by other county that has developed their infrastructure to siphon the nation’s cargo because Nigeria doesn’t have the tools for transit.

Spokesman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), BolajiAkinola, said the conditions of Nigeria roads out of the port and in the hinterland is a major deterrence to the landlocked countries.

He said: “Why will anyone want to spend several weeks on the road to get their cargoes to their countries? Also, there is no rail connection. Cost of haulage within Lagos at present is N700,000 per truck. How much do you then think it would cost per truck to Niger Republic or Chad? I’m sure it would be millions of naira. That’s the real problem here. The importers in those countries can certainly not afford this cost.”

We need to fix our road and rail infrastructure to attract the patronage of landlocked countries. Our ports are very good inside. Marine services and cargo handling operations are top notch – far better than any other country in the sub-region. However, we need to address our Customs processes, which is largely manual.


Government also needs to ensure that functional scanners are installed in the ports and also get the rail working again. There’s also need to rehabilitate our road networks. That’s the only way to attract transit cargoes,” he said.

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