The $1.5 billion Lekki Deep seaport is expected to commence commercial port operations by September 2022, thus signaling an era where mega sized vessels will be calling at a Nigerian port. With Apapa and Tin-Can battling with drought and accessibility issues, TOLA ADENUBI looks at what will become of these two river ports once Lekki port becomes operational.
All is set for the commencement of commercial port operations at the Lekki Deep seaport with the arrival of three Ship To Shore (STS) cranes and 10 Rubber Tyred Gantry (RTG) cranes. While the euphoria over the final completion of the port is yet to settle down, its impact on Nigeria’s busiest ports of Apapa and Tin-Can seems to be putting some operators on their nerves.
Recently, during a stakeholders meeting with the former Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, the Managing Director of one of the terminal operators at Tin-Can Island port, Ports and Terminal Multiservices Ltd (PTML), Ascanio Russo, warned that because Lekki is coming on stream, other ports shouldn’t be neglected by the Federal Government.
For Russo, the dilapidating state of Nigeria’s busiest ports calls for urgent attention and shouldn’t be overlooked because of a new port that is set to commence. The views of the PTML Managing Director remains germane given the fact that Lekki may confine Apapa and Tin-Can ports to the waste bin of history, as Nigeria’s busiest ports.
For the acting President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farinto, if Lekki port gets it right as its being widely speculated, then no importer would want to bring his cargoes to Apapa or Tin-Can ports.
According to Dr Farinto, “Some people are saying that Lekki port will complement Apapa and Tin-Can port. For me, those saying that are just being economical with the truth. Let’s ask ourselves, how will Lekki Port complement Apapa and Tin-Can ports?
“The only way Lekki port will complement Apapa and Tin-Can ports is by decongesting those ports. These two ports are congested already, but with Lekki, they will be decongested. So, if some people are telling terminal operators in Apapa and Tin-Can ports that Lekki will complement their operations, yes it will decongest their various port terminals. And you know the terminal operators don’t want their terminals decongested. They make more money with cargoes spending more time in their yards.
“However, in terms of competition, I see Lekki port competing with Apapa and Tin-Can ports for cargoes. By the time Lekki port brings out their own rates for cargo handling, everybody will shift to that side and leave Apapa and Tin-Can. We are all expecting the Lekki Port rate to be lower than what we currently pay at Apapa and Tin-Can ports.