Nigeria needs bigger ports to meet increasing trade volumes – Iheanacho

Concerned by the state of the nation’s transport infrastructure despite increasing trade volumes, the Chairman, Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, and former Minister of Interior, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho has urged the Federal Government to expand the nation’s ports infrastructure, access roads and provide connectivity to the hinterlands.

Iheanacho who spoke on Wednesday, at the ongoing National Transportation Summit organised by the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration (CIoTA) Nigeria, stated that the nation had to improve transport infrastructure to meet the 4% annual increase in world trade volume, which has also affected Nigeria.

He stressed that the shipping industry has played a significant role in taking millions of people out of poverty around the world; therefore, he urged the Nigerian government to invest more in infrastructure in order to create wealth and allow the citizens feel the impact of the enormous opportunities in shipping via poor infrastructure.

Noting that Nigeria’s revenue base has grown as a result of crude oil sale over the years, he warned that it would be wrong to continue spending such revenue on imported goods, rather than improving the size of ports available in the country.

Accordingly, he said, “Remember that we have to maximize these ports for our need as well as to serve landlocked countries like Chad. Nigeria should look at the trade needs and develop ports to serve those needs. The demand factor we should focus on is the underlying trade.

“How do we compare the volume of trade in 1959, 1969 and consistently over the years? If the trade has doubled over this period, then there is need to have ports infrastructure improved proportionally.”

Despite the numerous transport infrastructural challenges in the country, he urged CIoTA to see the annual 4% growth in world trade as an opportunity to explore avenues to position the nation’s transport sector to benefit from the trade.

Capt. Iheanacho also noted that Nigeria should prioritize development of human capacity in shipping rather than acquisition of vessels, stressing that ships could be mismanaged if the operators lacked the requisite skills to gainfully manage them.

Proffering solutions, he said: “What improvement have been made on the Lagos port access roads infrastructure linking hinterlands over the years? On Creek Road in Apapa, you would find numerous obsolete buildings that the government could buy, demolish and convert those places into marshalling areas for cargoes. What we advocate is dynamism. We have to consider these options.”

Meanwhile, the President of CIoTA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, assured that CIoTA would take up the responsibility of advocacy to address the numerous challenges as a support for government to realise its objectives as government cannot do it alone. Dr. Jamoh said that the professional body would engage all relevant government agencies and critical stakeholders in a bid to improve transport infrastructure and human capacity development.

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