Nigerian exporters are reportedly turning down contracts to supply products to international buyers owing to the horrific means of transporting goods to the ports as a result of the gridlock at Apapa, the nation’s premier port.
The gridlock took a turn for the worst when the Federal Government in collaboration with Flour Mills of Nigeria, Dangote and Nigerian Ports Authority, embarked on a N4.34bn reconstruction of the two kilometre Apapa/Wharf road in May.
In line with the construction work, part of the road has been shut to traffic, leaving only one, not-so-wide lane for traffic inwards Apapa.
Exporters complained that it took them an average of three weeks to get goods from the warehouses to the ports.
For perishable goods, this had resulted in huge loss for the operators, they said.
“Our goods lose value before they get to the market and are rejected outright. We suffer huge losses every day. Supply contracts are cancelled every now and then,” a representative of the National Cashew Association of Nigeria, Mr Sotonye Anga, lamented.
Warehouses in the country are also said to be filled with goods that are meant for exports.
A cocoa processor, Mr Kunle Fakoya, said his consignment had been on the way to the port for three weeks, adding that he had stopped collecting supply contracts and was thinking of closing shop.
“We are contemplating shutting down until the situation improves. There is no point continuing to produce when one cannot get the product out,” he said.
The President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Babatunde Ruwase, while reviewing the state of the economy early in the month, said, “The gridlock in the Apapa axis of Lagos has imposed and continues to impose unbearable cost on businesses. The dysfunctional state of the ports and associated logistics for cargo clearing has become a nightmare.
“The cost to businesses is horrendous. This includes astronomical increase in haulage cost, increased interest cost on borrowed funds used for import transaction, high demurrage charges, etc.”
He emphasised the need to restore order and sanity to the Lagos ports and improve access to them.