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Published: 13 December 2008      

Nigerian port bureaucracy slated

The director general of Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Irene Chigbue, has condemned the level of bureaucracy in the country’s port sector

Speaking at the World Bank-organised Privatisation Support Project Stakeholders Workshop in Abuja, Dr Chigbue said that it would be wrong to blame the operators when red tape and overbearing administration were in large part to blame for delays at the country’s ports.

She stated that 20 different government agencies have operations at each port. The charge carries substantial weight in Nigeria, given that the BPE is a state-controlled body and might be expected to pass the blame for port congestion on to private sector terminal operators.

She added that the BPE had visited more efficient ports in other parts of the world and noticed the much reduced presence of government agencies. Referring to the port landlord system, which has seen control of many of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) ports pass to 26 private companies, she said: “The programme has achieved many of its stated goals and has effectively brought both financial and institutional benefits.”

Nevertheless, congestion remains a severe problem at many of Nigeria’s main ports. At the end of November, the operator of Apapa Container Terminal, APM Terminals, decided to offer waivers on demurrage of more than N1.5B (US$12M) on containers arriving since 1 October in order to encourage traders to remove their freight from the port.

Discounts on demurrage will be offered on containers that have been at the port even longer in a bid to free up capacity at the terminal. Michael Hansen, managing director of APM Terminals Apapa Ltd, said that N1.5B “is a big sum for our organisation, but we are offering it to importers so that they can come forward and take delivery of their consignments before 31 December.”

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