Home » Unbelievable! Importers moving containers from Lekki port to Apapa port due to lack of access road

Unbelievable! Importers moving containers from Lekki port to Apapa port due to lack of access road

Stakeholders have called on the Federal Government to urgently find a solution the Lekki Deep Seaport accessibilty challenge.

by Samson Echenim

The unimaginable is happening at the Lekki Deep Seaport as importers now have to move their containers from the multi-billion deep seaport to Apapa Port using small vessels called barges.

While this may have become a new business opportunity for barge operators, a new but fast growing aspect of freight business in the country, it is clearly very expensive for importers and defeats the essence of establishing the Lekki Deep Seaport.

As a result, stakeholders have called on the Federal Government to urgently find a solution the Lekki Deep Seaport accessibilty challenge.

At the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Maritime Grouo symposium held recently at the Commerce House, Victoria Island Lagos, a top official of ENL Consurtium, a leading port operator in Apapa Port, Mr Mark Walsh, disclosed that importers are forced to freight their containers using barges to Apapa Port for clearing and outward delivery out of the port because there is no road for truckers to move the container from Lekki Port to their destination in other parts of the counrty.

“Look at the heavy investment that was done at the Lekki Free Zone. It is a beautiful port; modernised port; with the assistance of the Chinese, they made that port into a state-of-the-art piece of operational port in Nigeria, but unfortunately, it cannot be used properly, because there is no access to the port and a lot of shipping companies are actually moving their containers from lekki Free Zone port area back to Apapa Port by barges and that is catastrophic when it comes to the costing,” Walsh said during a panel session at the symposium.

Walsh, a European has over two decades of experience managing seaports in Nigeria and Africa and has been managing ENL Terminal since port concession in 2006.

“It makes things completely impossible to do. So infrastructure around the port, must be priority to the government. We must be able to get goods into and out of the port quickly. This is the only that you can build the economy,” Walsh added.

The ENL general manager represented the CEO of the company, Mrs Vicky Hastrup at the event to speak on the challenges of the port terminal operators ahead of the implementation of the African Continental Trade Area (AfCFTA) which Nigeria has subscribed to and a major stakeholder by resources, population and strategic location in the Gulf of Guinea.

The terminal operator emphasised that the Nigerian government must take the issue of seaport infrastructureserious and as a priority in order to benefit from the immense trade advantage portended by AfCFTA.

Of great concern is seaport access road and storage area for export goods which he said myst leave the port to the destinated countries as quickly as possible.

He said: “The blue economy will not work if you don’t have access to and out of the port. So we need to make sure that government understands that port roads are important and port roads should receive top priority.

“Also when we look at small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria, we can really help the economy by supporting these businesses and finding a way. Export is the only way foreign exchange can be earned in the real sector when business are doing well , but the problem is here in Nigeria, is that the export side is non existent because of difficulties in movement of the cargo.


“Trying to get your cargo from the factory or from the hinterland makes it so difficult and so expensive. With the cost of the goods that you ship out, you can never make profit. So, most people abandon their export, because it seems exportation is not possible but it should be possible.”

He said ENL is doing a lot to help exporters but is not willing to operate at a loss while trying to help people do business.

He continued: “We at ENL, we are doing a lot to help exporters. We made warehouse available for them and we make space at terminal for them so that when they have products to export they can ship out quickly. Gobt really has to work hard to support the export side whereas the to make available berth areas for them.

“We run the port to make profit. We are not to subsidize our services and so when exporters come and see our cost, they all run away and it shouldn’t be that way.

“The government must engage with exporters to know their needs and how it can effectively provide for their needs. Because exports is the only thing we can do as a country to make money. Import is only sulking all the dollars out Nigeria and that’s not the way we want to go. We have to go the other way.”

Earlier, Walsh noted that the AfCFTA is a very important issue for Nigeria because of her vast marine resources and strategic location, saying the country is poised to be in the forefront of transformation of the intra-Africa trade agreement.

He explained further: “The Central Bank of Nigeria has highlighted some of the potential benefits of AfCFTA to include a larger market access, free movement of goods, services and capital. It fastens new business growth. It increase profit, and demand for labour means that it will increase job opportunities and reduce unemployment.

“It will increase foreign exchange earnings of the country through exportation. There are truly enormous benefits which must be harnessed, but the ports in Nigeria have to be prepared. The ports operated by ENL Consurtium has undergone significant transformation over the years. We have come a long way, from long ship queues to non-functioning port operation equipment, things have improved but we’ve got a long way to go.

He called for improvement of safety in the port and complete rehabilitation of Tin-Can-Apapa ports road.

“There is still a lot of things to be done and so the major part is safety and security issues. The isps code is a very important issue in Nigerian Ports and we’ve got to get to a standard in all the ports in Nigeria, so that we can secure and make sure all cargoes moving through the port is moved through safely.

“The most important thing that the government need to now is the port access road. If you look at the port access roads connecting Apapa and Tin Can ports, it is a shame that over the last 17 years of port operation since the concession of the ports, nothing really has been done. We have talked about severally and assurance given to us so many times but up till now nothing really has been done. It is a real shame. The NPA has done what they could do; they have set up the call up system which has helped to improve traffic in the apapa area.

“Also power. Power is across the country not just the port, but the port needs 24 hour light. What we are doing now is to get into the area of solar power to see if we can actually use that inside port operation. At the moment it seems to be working, but working slowly, not at the level of maximum.”

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