Lagos ports collapsing, cargo diversion to West African countries imminent

There are indications that the nation may soon start experiencing more cargo diversions to neighbouring West African ports as well as increase in freight rates due to the collapse of both Tin Can and Apapa quay aprons.

A quay is part of the port where cargo is lifted or vessels are loaded and unloaded.

In separate chats with our correspondent in Lagos, experts said that shipping companies would now be scared to berth at the affected ports, resulting in the diversion of cargoes to West African ports or a possible increase in freight charges.

A member of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Adewale Ishola, said that the present condition of the quay aprons portrayed danger for incoming vessels.

“The quay aprons portray danger to incoming ships. They expose ships coming in to danger, so it means if you are not careful, people will say that our ports are not safe. If our quay aprons are not strong enough to take vessels, it means vessels will reject going to Tin Can port.

“Maybe they will now go to other ports and drop our cargoes.  And Apapa port is not even safer because it is older. Apapa was becoming filled up as at then; Tin Can was now built to take some cargoes off Apapa. Tin Can was built out of necessity. That means if ships start to reject coming to these ports because of the collapsing quay aprons, there may be additional premium for them to enter our ports because they know they are taking a risk to come there. So, the cost of delivering cargo might become higher if they have to bring their vessels to come and deliver cargoes at a collapsing quay side,” he said.

Also speaking, an oil and gas analyst, Zaka Bala, said that the collapsing of the quay aprons of the ports spelt doom for Nigerian economy, noting that vessels would start moving away from Nigeria.

“This portends doom for Nigerian economy. It portends doom for Nigerian economy because a lot of vessels will start moving away from Nigeria. And that will make other countries that are on the coastal waters of Atlantic Ocean to start developing their ports. Once they start developing their ports, all the big ships will start diverting to their ports and once that happens, most of the ships that are supposed to bring goods to Nigeria will start berthing in other countries.  Before you know it, other countries will take over the position of Nigeria. And once that happens, it means even if we import goods, they will stop in other countries and we will be forced to go to other countries within Africa to bring in our goods. It will spell economic doom for Nigeria,” he concluded.

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Muhammad Bello-Koko, had, over the weekend, raised the alarm that Tin Can Island port was collapsing, saying that more attention should be focused more on rehabilitating the quay walls of the port.

2023: US threatens visa restriction on promoters of violence

The United States of America says it will impose visa restrictions on anyone who promotes violence as Nigeria holds its general election in 2023.

America’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Mr Michael Gonzales, handed out the warning at an international conference with the theme, ‘United States Policy and Nigeria’s National Decisions in the 2023 Elections’, held at Johns Hopkins University, United States.

NAN reports that the conference, which was held at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington DC , virtually, brought together Nigerian and American policy communities to discuss issues around the 2023 general elections.

Gonzales said the United States government “will continue to use our messaging, as well as other diplomatic channels at our disposal, including visa restrictions, where warranted, to dissuade those who may be tempted to use violence to undermine Nigeria’s democratic process.”

According to him, the US government remains committed to working with Nigeria to uphold its conventions toward ensuring a peaceful power transition in 2023.

Nextier’s Founding Partner, Patrick Okigbo, clarified that the reason for hosting the conference in the United States was to elevate the election issues and conversations to the international stage.

He reiterated the need for Nigeria’s international partners to assist in upholding her democratic process, even as he pointed out that “democracy is not an end state but a project that requires continuous nurturing”.

Okigbo said, “Insecurity in Nigeria and recent occurrences in West Africa and Sahel regions should cause Nigeria’s elite to use the 2023 elections to douse the tensions and set the country on a growth path.”

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He further cautioned that the failure to address the issues raised at the conference could have devastating consequences, whilst attention to the recommendations could yield a bountiful harvest.

Other panellists highlighted the insecurity risks and the need to manage the 2023 elections properly, in addition to other points raised at the conference.

Among these points were the issue of faltering political developments as they concerned elitism and Nigeria’s progress, as it was observed that since 1999, the Nigerian elite had found a way to maintain a modicum of stability for elections and “eventually share the dividends of the election outcomes.”

In his contribution, Retired Brig.-Gen. Saleh Bala observed that “security challenges in Nigeria are true, present and tangible but what is consistent is the lurking shadow of elite interests and how they serve their interests.”

On insecurity threats to Nigeria’s democracy, the conference found that poor management of the elections, especially the rotational presidency convention, could threaten Nigeria’s democracy against the backdrop of pervasive insecurity, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the rise of self-help groups, and increased secessionist agitations in southern Nigeria.

Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development, Ms. Idayat Hassan, noted that “political parties during the Anambra governorship election cycle could not campaign due to insecurity”, and that worse scenarios could happen in 2023.

Hassan asserted that “the zoning of the presidency to the south, particularly the Southeast, will give the region a sense of belonging in Nigeria.”