With a stunning GDP constant grow and an economy worth USD 300bn, Nigeria should be leading African flourish this year, a continent with a younger population than in China, India or Brazil and with 4 out of the 12 fastest growing economies in the world. Imports in Nigeria will grow due to a consumption and investment increase. Nevertheless, huge infrastructure deficit in ports and airports might trouble productivity. José Manuel Juan, International Business Development Manager at Arola Comercio Internacional has personally interviewed the General Manager of the main port terminal in Nigeria to discuss these significant matters.
Photo left to right: Capt. Jon Jon Peter and José Manuel Juan
Capt. Jon Jon Peters is a Master Mariner with over 20 years of high quality shipping experience as a Cargo Superintendent, Ship Agency Manager, Ship Surveyor and Cargo Terminal Manager. Presently General Manager of a Multi Cargo Ship Terminal in Nigeria West Africa. He has lived in Lagos, Nigeria for over 15 years with his wife and three sons. Though New Zealand is actually home , he and his family consider Nigeria more of their home country, as they have spent so many years in here.
1) Arola: As per major Nigeria press, Nigerian ports are not quite prepared to handle inbound traffics either in full containers load or Ro-Ro cargo. With a 7,4% annual GDP grow which will certainly affect imports, what measures do you consider critical to be taken in order to speed up cargo operations?
Capt. Jon Jon Peters: The present Nigerian Ports were built a long time ago and designed for low volumes of cargo. With the rapid and steady growth of the Nigerian economy and the accompanying surge in imports and also exports, these ports cannot handle the cargoes pouring in.
The most plausible and sensible solution would the construction of new and larger ports outside the city limits. This is already being planned. Another solution which is more immediate could be the use of other Nigerian ports like Port Harcourt or Calabar. Presently of about 80 percent of the total volume of cargos destined for Nigeria pass the Lagos ports. The other ports are severely underutilized. Finally a faster and more efficient releasing process would help to reduce dwell times of the cargoes in the ports. The Government is already working on this and there has already been a significant improvement in the Nigerian Custom procedures.
2) A: I was able to see many construction needs in Lagos. Considering Spain has a severe know-how in infrastructure building projects, we would like to think that Spanish companies will increase their commerce of building materials to Nigeria. Some of these materials are transported as cargo project or loaded into special containers. What is the best port to handle this kind of cargo and why?
Capt.: You are absolutely correct. There is a huge potential for infrastructure development here in Nigeria, roads, bridges, airports, etc. You could ship the cargoes to any of the ports in the material is in containers or if in break bulk you have terminals like ENL or Josepdam in Lagos.
Don’t forget that Nigeria has huge natural resources which are still not being utilized or organized. Apart from Oil, Nigeria has lot of potential in the mining industry with coal, minerals and even gold being part of the resources. Also agriculture has an incredible potential here with vast tracts of land being unutilized. Finally we have a huge population of intelligent youth who speak English.
3) A: Is it true that these are the main problems in Nigerian ports and customs nowadays?: Precarious cargo security, corruption and bureaucracy and lack of modern infrastructures:
– Precarious cargo security – This used to be an enormous problem in the past but with the Port Concessioning to Private operators, we are as good as any other country. The problem of insecurity still remains outside the ports on the waters, on the access roads and highways, but even there we see improvement.
– Corruption and bureaucracy – Unfortunately the corruption issue is true, but we hope this will improve with time. To be fair to Nigeria corruption is prevalent in most countries and especially in developing countries like Nigeria. There is however now a recognition of the fact that corruption exists and we hope that the next step will be to eradicate this. Bureaucracy is a hangover of the Colonial times but I have observed that with the use of more electronic processes, this is gradually being reduced.
– Lack of modern infrastructures- Definitely hinders all aspects of development especially the port efficiency.
4) A: What security procedures have you established in your port terminals?
Capt.: we have strict access control with private security guards, armed policemen, turnstiles. We also have CCTV cameras monitoring all areas of the terminal and the illumination at night is adequate to light up the whole terminal.
5) A: What is the Free Trade Zone area situation in Nigeria? Is there any plan to develop new ones?
Capt.: We have free trade zones in many parts of Nigeria like Calabar and also now in Lekki outside Lagos, but in my opinion still not being properly utilized.
6) A: Is Five Star Logistics a vanguard terminal in terms of automation, surveillance, equipment investment, maximum draft and other technical parameters?
Capt.: I would not describe us as the vanguard , but definitely we are one of the forerunners in use of technology and equipment to improve efficiency.
7) A: What is the main challenge for customs procedures to avoid high demurrage costs at the port?
Capt.: Bureaucracy which prolongs the processes.
A: Capt. Peters, I really thank you for your time.