Niger Republic Abandons Nigerian Ports for Cotonou, Ghana

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The Shippers Council of the republic of Niger has cancelled a Memorandum of Understanding it entered into with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to ship transit cargo through Nigeria opting instead for ports in Cotonou and Ghana.

The executive secretary of the Shippers council of Nigeria, Mr. Hassan Bello confirmed this news during a seminar organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Freight Forwarders Group on Friday.

According to the Executive secretary, the operators from Niger Republic found it easier to move their cargoes through ports Ghana and Cotonou than Nigeria.

Mr. Bello further listed time wasting, insecurity and poor customer service among the reasons listed by the operators from Niger Republic as part of the reasons why they refused to honour the agreement with the Nigerian agency.

“If it will take them two days to clear their consignment in Cotonou while it takes them two weeks to do that in Nigeria, they will choose Cotonou.

So they abandoned that agreement we had with them. If you go to Shippers Council, you will still see them there but they are not doing anything,” he said.

Bello also decried the poor customer service delivery in Nigeria’s seaports, noting that it was one of the major causes of inefficiency and a major reason why most importers prefer to clear their cargoes through ports of neighbouring countries.

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He blamed the situation on an acute lack of automation processes, time wasting in positioning containers and processing documents, lackluster and poor attitude of operators and government agencies both to work as well as towards customers.

“Do the ports provide good service and in a reliable manner? Is the service consistent? What of the safety of the cargoes, security of the shipment and the issues connected to documentation? How long does it take for documentation processes to be finalised in respect of clearance of cargo?

So when we talk of customer service, these are small ingredients that will make a customer  rate the port as  an efficient one. When all these things are not there, you cannot be talking about customer service.” He bemoaned

He said further that effective customer relations implied that the agencies would interact in a friendly manner with customers, thereby making it easy for individuals to obtain information while making enquiries from Customs, terminal operators as well as other government agencies.

“In other ports, it would take a few hours to discharge oversized cargo, while in Nigeria, it would take days because the operators lacked the equipment and the customer would wait for days for them to hire equipment to operate such cargo, the NSC executive secretary pointed out.

He also said Nigerian Port charges are expensive compared to that of the neighbouring countries despite the fact that Nigerian seaports had no connection to the hinterland.

“It is only in Nigeria that seaports were built without rail connection, leading to gridlock,” he concluded.

 

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