Business Hilights
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Lagos ports may go cargoless as Antwerp Port takes over Cotonou port mgt

At a time avaliable statistics is suggesting serious drop in import and export traffic and throughput at Lagos ports of Apapa and Tincan, more stagnation is underway for the embattled facilities that had been under the shackles of bad access road as nearest Port of Cotonou appoints Port of Antwerp International (PAI) as new operators.

The development translates to further loss of Nigeria-bound cargoes to Cotonou, Benin Republic as the group will deploy latest time saving technology and upgrade infrastructure that will modernize the Port of Cotonou.

The agreement between PAI, a consultancy and investment subsidiary of Antwerp Port Authority, and the authorities in Cotonou is expected to be signed in early January 2018.

The Port of Cotonou, which handles an annual freight volume of around 12 million tons, wants to grow further, but both the infrastructure and the organization are outdated. Therefore, the country’s government decided to temporarily outsource the management of the port, as explained by Antwerp Port Authority.

Giving insights on the killer deal, Kristof Waterschoot, Managing Director of PAI, averred that “Our main task will be to modernise the port authority in organisational terms, renovate the obsolescent facilities and prepare for and guide the expansion of the port”.

“In the short term, PAI plans to take over some key functions within the port authority, in order to study the processes from the inside.

It would be recalled that PAI had carried out consultancy tasks in the Port of Cotonou in 2017.

The port has a strategic importance in the region as it is also one of the main gateway ports for the sub-region, in particular, the countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. With the government’s recent move, the reformed port would be able to compete with the surrounding ports, Antwerp Port Authority said in a statement.  Business Hilights gathered that the new management agreement with Antwerp Port will run for several years and the deal is tailored to push Lagos ports out of business by introducing reforms that will pull Nigerian importers.

Already, Niger Rep and other neighbouring countries that ordinarily ought to have used Lagos ports are intensifying use of Cotonou Port.

Statistics show that Lagos ports and mainly Nigeria lose on a yearly basis, more than 60% of Nigeria-bound cargoes to Cotonou Port largely due to high Customs duties and poor clearing processes at Nigerian ports.