President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Iju Tony Nwabunike, has called for the speedy modernisation of Nigerian ports to enhance trade and competitiveness
At a media parley in Lagos, Nwabunike said many African countries were improving on their ports infrastructures ahead of the full take-off of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. He cited Ghana and Cote D’Voire where access control is based on biometric data capture and fully computerised systems.
Nigeria, he said, might be left behind among countries waiting to take advantage of the AfCFTA regime for intra African trade in line with the agreement.
On border closure, he advised President Muhammadu Buhari to review the policy by allowing goods imported in compliance with import guidelines into the country
He lauded the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in their evaluation and interests in getting the closed borders reopened.
Nwabunike also expressed worries over the under utilisation of Calabar port, even as he stressed the need for other existing eastern ports to be revamped. He described Calabar seaport as critical to the nation’s economy, with routes linking Ebonyi and Benue, down to northern states of the country.
According to him, the association has commenced moves to engage the Federal Government through the office of Secretary General of the Federation, in ensuring that the Calabar port and other seaports within the eastern part of the country are resuscitated for optimal and competitive trade thrive.
“We thank the government for its interest in getting Calabar port work at optimal capacity and advise that the contractors given the dredging work be directed to commence operation. This dredging will go a long way to make the port more accommodating for ships and reduce the pressure on some of the presently used ports in the country.
“We have a lot to discuss with the federal government and one of such is the total modernisation of our ports. If you look at our ports today you cannot be compare it with the port of Tema in Ghana because there is so much negative things. The ports are overstretched and we are supporting the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to divert some cargoes to other ports in the country because Lagos ports are no longer what they used to and the alternative ports should be other areas like Calabar and others.
“We mentioned specifically who is dredging the Calabar port for almost six to seven years now. There is this contract for the dredging of Calabar seaport for years and nobody knows about them to engage them on the delay. Why are they not facilitating the job on time and what is the actual problem. So the issue is very clear that we need to know the company handling the Calabar port dredging contract and let it be dredged immediately,” he said.
Nwabunike called on the NPA to consider the position of the ANLCA towards revamping the Calabar port for optimal utilisation pointing out that the association would work harmoniously to support government for the actualisation of the eastern ports like that of Calabar.