From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
The Port of Antwerp International has urged the Federal Government to develop a multi-modal transportation system for its ports as the effective and efficient solution to the perennial gridlock on the ports access roads.
Making the submission in Lagos during a visit to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), the Manager of Port Projects, Mr. Philippe Droesbeke, urged Nigeria to reduce dependence of roads by developing the use of barges and rail to and from its ports for effective evacuation of cargoes.
He disclosed that the Port of Antwerp currently does 140 million tonnes of cargo yearly, with rail bearing 50 per cent, barge 40 per cent and truck 10 per cent. He explained that logistics require logic to ensure optimum utilization of such multi-modal transport system.
Droesbeke further urged steady investment in the right port equipment investment and manpower development to match the growth in cargo volume, add that they were in the country to share experience and partnership with Nigerian maritime institutions, organisations and companies.
According to him, the team was ready with some training opportunities and consultancies, adding: “We have a long lasting history in the Port of Antwerp and are here to offer our experience and partnership with Nigerian institutions, organisations and companies in the maritime sector.”
On their part, the NSC Executive Secretary, Mr. Hassan Bello, welcomed the idea of consultancy and training, stating that the agency has always been interested in interconnectivity for the ports, including inland and dry ports.
He disclosed that the country wants to bring the facilities to international standards to boost the economy, making them export centres.
“So, for the infrastructures necessary to make them full ports, if they are ports of destination or origin then they have to be so equipped with service rail.
“We have one operating in Kaduna but the rail capacity is not anything to be proud of; and such other things like consolidation centres, stripping of containers, ware housing, agric product processing and packaging companies must be there.
“So, we need to study the other values that will make a dry port a port, and also work on the logistics chain to reduce transport cost and have competitive products, including packaging.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian-Belgian Chamber of Commerce in Lagos, Paulette Van Trier, said the chamber has been working to improve trade between both countries.
“We are trying to ensure that the produce arrive at the ports timely so that the goods can get to the international market and spread all around the world. We hope that we can work together, have a positive partnership and improve exports from Nigeria.
“As a chamber, we aren’t asking for money. We just want farmers and other exporters to know how the process is done globally. We are providing Nigerians with examples via teachings and trainings to make people aware of global best standards and practices.”