The economic growth and development of any country largely depends on the performance metrics of its international trade and investments because no single country can exist on its own. Domestic and foreign trades will be difficult without an efficient transportation system to convey marketable goods and maritime business presents an opportunity for the transportation of a large volume of cargo. Records have shown that over 80% of the volume of international trade is transported by sea. This necessitates the importance of ports operations to countries endowed with coastal features Ports have been seen as catalysts and gateways for economic growth and development.
What is a seaport?
A seaport is a terminal facility provided to serve the purpose of accommodating all shipping requirements for a ship or seagoing vessel to be provided with a berthing place as well as also providing all the necessary facilities and equipment for effective and efficient cargo handling operation, general maintenance and coordination of all shipping activities and operations. The cargo carried by ship means nothing until they are discharged and transferred to an inland vehicle for onward journey to the shipper’s warehouse, hence the necessity for the availability of effective cargo handling facilities and port operations.
Benefits of seaports in Nigeria
The many benefits of seaports in Nigeria’s national economic growth cannot be overemphasized. ports create job opportunities, provides an alternative mode of transportation, generates revenue, accelerates urbanization, exerts huge multiplier effects on the economy and promotes international peaceful co-existence amongst nations. For example, the Lagos Port Complex also known as Premiere Port (Apapa Quays) is the earliest and largest seaport in Nigeria. It is located in the popular Apapa Wharf and prides itself as the fourth busiest port in Africa. In 2018 alone, the Apapa Wharf is estimated to have generated about 5.5 billion in revenue.
Experts in the Maritime sector have noted the need for private port operations as a major reform in the maritime sector in Nigeria pointing out that, with globalization, the government alone cannot effectively manage a modern seaport successfully. The performance of ports in the generation of revenue among other contributions to the national economy hinges on several factors. The question of ports capacity and congestion, high level of demurrage, competitive structures, lack of facilities, a deficit in investment and management deficit are issues confronting the smooth operation of ports activities, thereby stifling the quantum of revenue generation to the nation`s treasury.
The port has been described severally as a gateway to a nation’s economy. The economic growth of a nation depends on how efficient and cost-effective the port is operated and managed. Just as the economic growth of a nation demands port facilities, also the port facilities must be run or operated efficiently to enable further economic growth or expansion.
Popular Seaports in Nigeria
Nigerian ports account for a huge revenue turn-in into the nation’s treasury. According to NPA, the total revenue obtained from Customs & Excise duties in 2018 was N1.1 trillion. The names of ports in Nigeria are:
- Lagos Port Complex
- Tin Can Island Port Complex
- Calabar Port Complex
- Cross River Port
- Delta Port
- Warri Port
- Rivers Port Complex
- Onne Port Complex.
Reform and Concession of Seaports in Nigeria
According to an AERC research paper, from the inception of operation of the Nigerian Ports Authority in 1956, Nigeria had worked a service port model. This was confronted with a lot of difficulties, which brought about the thought of changing over to a landlord port model or port concession. The port concession project was finished in 2006 after a universal focused offering procedure. This prompted the rise of 26 terminals, which were given to private terminal administrators on the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) model. The Nigerian ports saw a quick change because of this change in which Nigerian ports were handed over to the port administrators called concessionaires.
Concessions emanated from the requirements for some change. A concession may be viewed as undifferentiated from public-private associations (PPPs) and Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) as well as an arm of privatization. Privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) became a key part of the auxiliary change procedure and globalization system in numerous economies. It has picked up popularity lately.
However, it has been an old concept used by the French government and can be found in the water project of 1776. Section 168 of the Draft Ports and Harbour Authorities Bill characterizes a “concession” as an accord between an Authority and a third party following which such third party is approved to provide port services or operate port facilities as stated by the bill. It is contended that privatization of terminals through concession contracts would be a profitable choice if port rivalry is compelling, however, not inexorably in situations where competition should be made by regulation.
The FGN set out on the concession of Nigerian Ports basically to take care of the extended issues of inefficiency, corruption, mismanagement, and huge debts that describe the Nigerian ports. Vehemently concession of Nigerian ports alludes to renting of port terminals and the re-association of stevedoring companies. Around 110 applications were gotten in December 2003 and out of 94 pre-qualified concessionaires, just 20 were conceded to work Nigerian seaport terminals for 10-25 years.
The idea of productivity is extremely unclear and demonstrates hard to apply in an ordinary port organization reaching out crosswise overproduction, trading and service businesses. Ports are an intricate and multi-parts organization in which institutions and functions regularly cross at different levels. There are numerous methods for measuring port effectiveness, but the three general classes are physical indicators, factor productivity indicators and economic and financial indicators. Physical indicators refer to time measures about the ship, e.g. Ship turnaround time, ship waiting time, berth occupancy rate). It can here and there measure coordination with land modes, e.g. cargo dwell time or to what extent it takes for offloaded freight to leave the ports.
The targets of the Port concession or reform was to build proficiency in port operation, lessening the expense of port administrations to stakeholders, reduction of cost to the government for the backing of the port sector and pull in the private sector to free public assets for public services. Given the proposal of the task (CPCS, World Bank and Royal Haskoning), the Landlord port model was picked.
The landlord port model generally involves people in the private sector being in charge of port planning and administrative assignments (on safety, security and environment), and keeps up responsibility for the related area and essential infrastructure and separating the Nigerian Ports Authority into a few independent port authorities, each in charge of an alternate geographical zone. However, Nigerian ports seem to lack the ability to adapt efficiently to meet the ever-changing and developing needs of industries.
Nigerian seaports and national development
A critical examination of the economic geography and trade pattern of Nigeria shows that the nation’s trade pattern is outward-looking meaning that the country relies on the export of goods in exchange for import. This pattern has assisted over the years to promote international trade through the maritime sub-sector. It has therefore in addition to other benefits improved water transportation system and infrastructural development especially ports and terminal facilities. As a result of the trade pattern and economic geography tendency of the country, key development issues have emerged. For example, evidence-based researches have shown that Nigerian seaports have created numerous benefits which include the following:
- Numerous formal and informal job opportunities.
- Substantial revenue generation for the economy through various forms of licenses, taxes, rates, tariff, demurrage, fines, renewals and rents.
- Promotes both international and regional trade and commerce opportunities.
- Transportation of goods at cheap and affordable costs when compared with other modes of transport.
- The emergence of various stakeholders and investors with varying infrastructural needs for terminal development and ports provision.
- Regional economic growth due to port terminal development.
- Promotion of international business that partly operates within the purview of international laws and conventions as well as domestic laws and acts.
- Expansion of local economies as a result of the quantum volume of goods that can be hauled at a time.