The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shipper’s Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, says Nigeria needs deep sea ports to attract bigger vessels and boost the economy.
Bello stated this at a One-day seminar organised by the council for members of Abuja Transport and Aviation Correspondents Association (ATACA) on Thursday in Abuja.
He said the Apapa and Tin Can ports were already over stretched to accommodate the number of cargoes that currently comes into the country.
According to him, the depth of Apapa port is about eight to nine metres which is not deep enough to accommodate large vessels.
He said if Nigeria could develop more deep sea ports, the country would become a hub in the West African sub-region.
“The Vice President has said that Nigeria will develop deep sea ports.
“The advantages are clear, Apapa and Tin Can are water ports, they don’t have the depth that others have.
“Apapa and Tin Can are nine meters deep, while in Togo we have ports with 15 meters because they are natural ports.
“In Apapa and Tin Can, you have to dredge almost all the time, you have to maintain a capital dredging so that you will have depth of about eight meters.
“And this means bigger ships cannot come and then the economic of scale means you will be serviced by less containers.
“But if you have deep sea ports, it’s a natural port, in Lekki we could go up to 15 meters.
“So Nigeria will be the hub, bigger ships will come with more containers to service other places and it can be a hub for other countries if we get our efficiency right,” he said.
Bello also said that Nigeria lost N9 billion dollars annually to foreign shipping lines because of absence of a viable flag carrier and indigenous shipping lines.
He said there was need to have a national carrier to avoid such huge capital flight or revenue loss to foreign shipping companies.
He added that employment creation was another advantage of having a national shipping line.
“If we do that, we are going to have that nine billion dollars that is coming to Nigeria’s economy, you can imagine the effect that it will have.
“We need to see ships flying Nigerian flag, so it is not rocket science, it is not re-inventing the wheel because this has happened, what we want is private sector participation.
“The private sector should lead the way and what the committee for the fleet implementation is doing, is to create investment climate so that investors can come and make it a worthwhile venture,” he said.