From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Good port-city linkage systems, comprising essentially of an effective inter-modal road connectivity, will facilitate seamless transport and create immeasurable positive effect on the economy, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has said.
Conversely, while transportation adds 2 to 5% to the final cost of imported cargoes in developed countries, an absence of, or inefficient intermodal connectivity to and from the ports pushes such add-on to as much as 15 to 50 % in developing countries, he said.
Speaking at the Crans Montana Forum Club of Ports in Brussels, Belgium, Peterside stressed that the quality of the rail and road transport connection to a port has direct impact on the port’s cargo throughput.
“The efficiency of a port is measured by the average quantity of import and export cargoes it is able to handle in a single day,” a statement by the NIMASA Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi, quoted him to say.
“A port with bad road and rail facilities will have low cargo throughput, all other factors remaining equal. While ships start and end their journey in a port, the cargoes in most cases originate and end up far from the port.
“This implies that without the connection of other modes of transport to a seaport, especially rail and road transport, the port becomes crippled and sea transport becomes inefficient.”
According to Peterside, it is against this background that the Nigerian government, through the Ministry of Transportation, is investing heavily on linking all major seaports and airports to the cities through rail and good access roads, to boost the economy.
He added: “Our quest to enhance the quality of the rail and road transport connection to all ports in Nigeria is to ensure seamless transportation of goods and services through the ports.”
He noted that inefficiency and lack of necessary port infrastructure, which lead to longer dwell time for vessels and cargoes in the ports, meant that the turnaround time in most African ports is too high and resulting in high demurrage, which is eventually passed to the final consumer.
Therefore, he charged port managements in developing economies to invest in efficient land transport system to minimise vessel idle time at ports, thereby reducing turnaround time, increasing the ports’ berth occupancy ratio and making them more competitive and profitable.