Poor evacuation plans threaten N7.7trn deepwater port projects

The lack of a proper evacuation plan threatens the development of various deepwater port projects across the country worth 5.7 trillion naira ($ 14 billion), the weekend’s findings revealed. end LEADERSHIP.

Using the dollar valuation to dollar naira translating to N410, the valuation of $ 14 billion of the country’s deep sea ports translates into a cumulative amount of N $ 5.7 trillion.

Previously, it was hoped that the development of various deep-water ports across the country would solve the persistent infrastructure problems facing the seaports of Apapa and Tin-Can Island.

But the bad roads and the lack of railroad connecting the seaports dashed this hope.

Stakeholders identified the lack of viable evacuation plans such as rail links with the deep water port or free trade zones, alternative routes for evacuation or jetties for evacuation of goods at the means of badges as a source of concern for multibillion naira projects.

Badagry deepwater port is estimated at 1.3 trillion naira ($ 3 billion); Ibom deepwater port is worth 1.9 trillion naira ($ 4.6 billion), while the deepwater port of Lekki is valued at 615 billion naira ($ 1.5 billion). The deepwater port of Escravos in Delta state is worth 1.2 trillion naira ($ 2.9 billion), and the deep water port of Calabar is valued at 820 billion naira ($ 2 billion). ), bringing the valuation of the country’s deepwater port projects to 5.7 trillion naira ($ 14 billion).

Deepwater ports were designed to improve the overall cargo handling capacity of Nigerian ports, thereby increasing Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The handling capacity of Nigerian ports is estimated at 60 million metric tonnes, while demand and usage is around 100 million metric tonnes.

These are expected to increase with increasing population, urban expansion and the concomitant demand for more markets, thus increasing Nigeria’s need for better-designed port facilities in line with increasing freight traffic for the country to be globally competitive.

Additionally, with the focus on larger, more economical ships that require deeper drafts, global logistics trends have made the need for deep seaports more imperative.

However, Nigeria has started the development of deep water ports such as Lekki, Badagry, Ibom, Bonny, Escravos, Bakassi, Bonny and Ondo, among others, to maximize the huge potentials of the sector. Construction of Lekki Deep seaport nearing completion and will be commissioned in Q1 2022

The $ 1.6 billion deep-water port project in the free trade zone does not provide for an intermodal transportation system necessary for the seamless evacuation of goods, and this has remained a mirage and a source of concern to them. stakeholders.

When fully completed, the port, which covers 90 hectares of land, will include three container docks, long dry bulk docks and three liquid docks, allowing it to handle up to 2.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). ) containers per year.

This deep-water port of Lekki with a deeper draft of 9.5 meters is expected to receive very large container ships (VLCCs), ships that until now could not dock in Apapa and the port of L island of Tin Can.

The Bonny deep water port project alone covers an area of ​​275.22 hectares and is to be developed through direct investment from MM. Transfer base (DBFOT).

The scope of the project includes the construction of a breakwater, surfacing, container wharf, general cargo wharf, dredging of the access channel and turning basin, construction office buildings and warehouses.

The new port with a draft of 17 meters will have a terminal capacity of 500,000 TEU per year and 100,000 DWT of general loading dock.

The Badagry Free Zone will include a power plant, an oil refinery, an industrial park and warehouses as well as inland container depot functions.

When completed, the full-service deep-water port will be one of Africa’s largest with seven kilometers of quay and 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) of dedicated yard, and will include state-of-the-art container facilities, bulk, bulk liquids, Ro / Ro and general cargo as well as support for oil and gas operations and a barge terminal.

Also, the deep-water port of Bakassi will become Nigeria’s second commercial port after the port of Apapa, and would be the maritime gateway to the landlocked northeast of the country.

The Ondo port project site also has an industrial town with free zone status, measuring 2,771.2 hectares.

The site is accessible from Ore via an yet to be built two-lane road from Araromi to Lekki in Lagos, and when the road is finished it should only take 45 minutes from the port to Lagos.

The Ibom Deep Water Port (IDSP), designed for very large vessels that can load over 13,000 containers in a single trip, will be a transshipment port where small vessels will redistribute cargo from mega-ships to seaports and riverine closer to the destination in Nigeria and outside Nigeria.

The port is strategically located to serve the West and Central Africa region, JDZ Sao Tome, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Angola, Gabon, Congo, Congo DRC and Chad, with 5,129 hectares for port development.

The aforementioned seaports, when fully embarked, will receive VLCC vessels but without an intermodality plan.

For example, the road leading to Badagry and the seaport is in a state of disrepair while the government has been building it for a long time without any progress.

In addition, in the deep water ports projects of Ibaka, Escravous and Calabar, the roads were deplorable and could not support the type of cargoes coming from the VLCC.

The Federal Ministry of Transport had said that extending the rail system to the deep-water port of Lekki and others may not be a priority now and may not be possible during this administration.

Corroborating the ministry’s position, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) said there was no budget provision for the rail link to Lekki or any other deep-water port in the 2021 budget.

But stakeholders argued that the lack of viable evacuation plans such as rail links to deep-water ports or free trade zones and alternative routes for evacuation or jetties for evacuation cargoes with badges would hinder take-off from these seaports.

They cautioned, however, that the errors of Apapa and Tincan ports should be avoided wherever there are deep-water ports, adding that modern facilities should be in place while building them using global best practices and processes. .

Stakeholders who expressed concern about Lekki’s new deep-water port said they had yet to see the connectivity, warning that the lack of intermodality would disrupt most of Nigeria’s ports.

Speaking on the lack of intermodality in deep-water ports in Nigeria, National Vice President of the Association of Licensed Nigerian Customs Officers (ANLCA) Kayode Farinto said the Nigerian government is creating another Apapa-type traffic monster with deep-water ports across Lagos and Nigeria. .

According to Farinto, to have functioning deep-water ports, Nigeria needs to ensure that all modes of transport are connected to avoid creating the kind of traffic jams currently seen in Apapa.

He said, “We cannot have a deep water port without an intermodal transportation system. If we don’t have intermodality, then what we want to have in Nigeria is a theoretical deepwater port, not a pragmatic one.

“If Nigeria wants to operate true deep water ports where the Very Large Container Carrier (VLCC) can dock, then we should have a rail connecting the deep water port. We should have a well-articulated highway connecting the deep water port and badges capable of evacuating goods out of the port in a transparent manner ”.

Farinto pointed out that the deep blue projects in Nigeria are nothing but a white elephant, as the lack of railways, well-constructed and connected roads connecting the ports are lacking.

He said that in developed countries, connectivity is the first that the government puts in place even before the construction of deep-water ports.

“In Nigeria, the government is talking about building deep water ports before connecting them to rail. Right now we should have a super highway in Lekki under construction. Isn’t that supposed to be in pari-passu? But what do we have? A tiny or bad road leading to deep seaports.

“If I have to go to Badagry now, we’ll be on the road for seven hours because the road is bad. So, I believe most of these seaports are white elephant projects that the government is pursuing.

“We have no intermodal transport system, no port development plans. What will happen to our port in ten years? The government cannot tell us; no coherence in policies. So talking about deep-sea ports is a white elephant project. But for now, Nigeria is not ready for the development of deep water ports until we are ready for intermodal development, ”he added.

In addition, a lecturer at Lagos Business School (LBS), Dr Frank Ojadi, also lamented the lack of inland water access plans and rail linkage to deep water ports in Nigeria.

While considering the enormous traffic that would be created by the deep water ports and other major projects mentioned in the region, he reiterated the importance of intermodality for deep water port projects.

According to him, deep-water ports are essential as good nautical access is important for port connectivity.

Ojadi said: “Over the past decades, ships have quickly grown bigger and deeper. For example, the draft of the largest container ships right now is around 14.5 meters, which is deeper than most ports can accommodate.

“The depth of the ports thus becomes a competitive advantage in attracting larger ships and a challenge for many ports which are estuaries and do not have direct access to the high seas.”

He added that the deep-sea seaports would create opportunities for transshipment operations, generate more jobs, promote local maritime activities and boost trade in the country.

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