Containers-at-the-port19032The perennial  port congestion  seems to have defied all solutions that have been proffered by various government committees that were set up for that purpose.

A World Bank report has shown that Nigerian ports are the worst  on the issue of cargo dwell time, a development the report says is not only stalling  trade facilitation, but also causing inflation as the high   cost of goods due to delay in the port are  passed onto  consumers

The report also indicated that Nigeria being the worst hit in t his situation, also has the least penalty for the use of the port as storage facility by importers.

The report  also noted that while it takes at least 21 days  to clear  cargo from the ports in Nigeria, it takes between two to six days to clear cargoes from other ports that were considered in the report.

In the report, it was said that while the storage rate in Nigeria attracts as low as $253,  storage in the Port of Mombasa n Kenya attracts $546; the rate in Gothenborg in Sweden goes for $763; Sydney Australia $2,918 and that of New Jersey goes for as much as $3,673.

The terminal operators are of the opinion that the low rates storage in the ports attract, could be be the reason why  importers prefer to leave their cargoes in the ports.

The long dwell time of cargo at Nigerian seaports has become a problem, not only to efficiency but to port operation, part of the report said.

The  Lagos Port Complex (LPC) and the Tin Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC) both in Apapa were used as the case study for the report just as it added that the attitude of importers to quick clearance of cargoes leaves much to be desired.

It further stated that the two major factors responsible for the high dwell time is poor clearing process, graft and low storage charges.

“Many importers and agents are not worried when their containers stay long at the port terminals because storage charges are low,” a Customs officer at LPC recently told journalists even as he urged terminal operators to make it unattractive for use of the port facilities for storage.

“Once those who leave containers for too long at the port are punished for doing so, every other issue will be addressed,” he stated.

In addition to long cargo dwell time, poor transport infrastructure around the ports such as narrow exit gates and multiple agencies are among others have been identified as major factors responsible for creating bottlenecks at the ports.  According to concerned stakeholders, some clearing agents allegedly use port terminals as warehouses pending when they complete their long clearing process with Customs, thereby compounding congestion at the ports.

A maritime economist, Dr. Wilson Adeshina, said recently that cheap storage rates encourage the use of port facilities for storage.