The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has said that the Nigerian port system is losing over $20billion in annual revenue due to inefficiency and decayed infrastructure. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar Atiku who promised to reverse the trend if voted into power in the coming election, made the disclosure during a town hall meeting with maritime stakeholders in Lagos last week.
The presidential hopeful who was represented by his running mate and former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, said that the port system is not working, even as he lamented the fate of Nigerians whom he said are made to pay extra $1,000 abroad on every container shipped into the country.
Expressing disappointment over what he described as low level of commitment and official response to sundry factors responsible for the ineffectual state of the ports, including the state of inactivity at the Eastern and Delta Ports, he said if elected tax holidays and other incentives will be given to terminal operators and other critical stakeholders to patronize the Eastern ports and make them viable, a situation he said would drastically free the Lagos ports of unwarranted pressure and congestion.
According to him, in order to make the Eastern ports busy and viable, there is need to make it cheaper to clear cargoes there than in Lagos.
Challenging the Buhari government over its poor performance at the ports economy, Atiku said, “How can you say Nigeria is working and you have an ease of doing business yet the roads leading to your ports are in bad shape? It simply shows a government that is not working.
For every goods you ship from anywhere in the world into Nigeria, you pay additional $1,000, the reason why you are paying that is because of the inefficiency of Nigerian Ports. “The ports today have not been expanded from what it was when they were built, nobody has given them any attention and we are not even building new ones.
Singapore was the busiest port in the world, and as it is, they are building the busiest and biggest port under the sea, this would start in 2050, but here we are not doing anything, we are busy making sure that the ones built are not working.” Speaking on the ports access roads gridlock, Atiku assured the stakeholders that if elected as president, the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway will be reconstructed and completed under a year.
“The Apapa-Oshodi Expressway is not more than 10km and it won’t take any serious government more than a year to fixed it, it’s not rocket science, what has happened so far is a matter of incompetence and ineffective leadership.”
Meanwhile, maritime practitioners under the aegis of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, in a document presented by its Vice President, Mr. Farinto Collins, at the town hall meeting, regretted galvanizing over 30,000 votes for President Muhammadu Buhari in year 2015; saying that most of the promises made were never fulfilled. Farinto lamented that even though the port sector generates N5billion daily into the Federal Government’s coffers, the government has abandoned it.