Contrary to reports linking increase in cargo traffic last year to improvement in the economic activities at the port, it has been attributed to construction work at the Dangote refinery at Lekki, Lagos.
The massive work going on at the site required the shipment of mechanical, electrical and other equipment needed for the completion of the refinery.
The Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, had reported a hike of cargo throughput in 2017 and 2018 compared to the figures of 2016.
Responding to the above, Executive Vice Chairman of ENL Terminals, Vicky Haastrup, said that the increase has to do with the ongoing construction work at Dangote refinery. She said there is huge importation of materials for the ongoing construction, wondering what will happen to cargo throughput after the completion of the construction of the refinery.
The annual data from the NPA on imports in the past five years showed that imports peaked in 2014 at 935,000 twenty foot equivalent units, TEUs, slumped in the next two years, recovered a little in 2017 and rose further to 809,000 TEUs 2018.
The NPA’s data also indicated that there was increase in the total cargo throughput at Nigerian ports excluding the traffic at crude oil terminals. In addition to the contraction of the economy, the drop in container traffic also reflects the imposition of foreign exchange restrictions on some imports by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in 2015.
Goods such as rice smuggled across the border to flout the restrictions would not feature in the NPA’s data. The drop could also reflects a move by some importers to take their businesses to other ports in the sub-region such as Cotonou, where the authorities have invested in infrastructure and reduced average goods clearance turn-around time.
The data from NPA also shows rise in container traffic on the export side. This may reflect the higher production of export crops such as cashew nuts, cocoa beans and sesame seeds.
Some stakeholders had complained then that the economic down-turn in the nation has badly affected the volume of port activities.
They had expressed doubt over the figures put out by the NPA wondering what could be responsible for the increase.