Nigeria and Benin Republic are competitors in the maritime business. The two West African countries are competing to be the Load Center, otherwise known as transshipment base, in West Africa.
Tragically, Contonou has remained the haven for Nigerian importers.
About 60% of all the imports to West Africa are destined to Nigeria. However, what gets to our seaports is just about 10%.
In other words, all the shipment coming to West Africa are billed for Nigeria, but at the end of the day what gets to Nigerian port directly is just about 10%.
The greater amount of cargoes are offloaded in neigbouring ports in Cotonou and other West African states and then they are transshipped to Nigeria. This is mostly because the seaports at Apapa and Tin Can are enormously overwhelmed.
Calabar Port Terminal
Meanwhile, Nigeria has 4 other sea ports that are underutilized or abandoned. The seaports are in Warri, Calabar, Koko and Port Harcourt.
Unarguably, Nigeria enjoys a large market advantage over Benin Republic because of her population, but sadly, it is Benin Republic that benefits from the large market of Nigeria.
Many countries of the world do not have such luxuries of having multiple seaports. Some are landlocked. Fortunately, Nigeria is blessed with many natural harbors and ports. Sadly, we are not taking advantage of this blessing.
Indeed, Nigeria needs deep seaports. However, if fully utilized, the abandoned and underutilized seaports in Nigeria have the capacity to significantly increase our national revenue and indeed our GDP.
So, why are the Port Harcourt, Calabar, Warri and Koko seaports underutilized?
Port Harcourt Port Terminal
Note, however, that the Intels’ Onne port in River state is Nigeria’s best run and perhaps the most active ports in the country. The Intels’ Onne seaport is a privately-run seaport within the same region as the abandoned ports.
According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, in 2017, the cargo throughput on Nigeria seaport was highest at Onne Port.
In that year, the Onne Port had cargo throughput of 25,836,246 (while inward was 1,947,347, outward was 23,888,899).
This was followed by Apapa Port with 18,909,238 (inward was 17,523,313, while outward was 1,385,925)
Tin Can Island Port was third with 15,520,925 (inward was 14,623 and outward was 1,385,925).
Meanwhile, the other seaports – Port Harcourt, Warri, Calabar – struggled with very poor cargo throughput.
Please note that these almost comatose seaports are within the same axis as the high-performing Onne port.
So, what really is the excuse for the neglect of the seaports at Port Harcourt, Warri and Calabar?
Warri Port Terminal
Intel Onne Port