- Government agencies are set up to make money, not to facilitate trade.
- Another obstacle hampering trade is poor infrastructure.
- Another obstacle to trade at the ports is the lack of proper regulations.
The president of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has revealed that a lot of government agencies, especially at the country’s ports are set up for money-making rather than facilitating trade. He made this known in a remark at the recently held RT-200 Non-oil Export Summit, which took place at the Lagos Continental Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos.
He also stated that terminal operators are creating artificial barriers to create obstacles to trade by stacking containers so that the movement of goods can be obstructed just to collect demurrage.
The business mogul disclosed that another obstacle hampering trade is poor infrastructure, as he went ahead noting that the federal government cannot tackle the issue of infrastructure deficit alone, and called on other companies, to collaborate with the government on a public/private partnership basis to reduce the infrastructure deficit.
He noted that the N75 billion Oshodi/Apapa Expressway project is almost completed, which is reducing the pressure of traffic on that axis, as the contract to reconstruct the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway is funded by future taxes paid by the Dangote Group, which costs between N75 and N80 billion.
Dangote praised the government for the Lekki Deep Sea Port project, which he said has the capacity of offloading 4,000 tonnes of goods on a daily basis, but questioned where the road is to convey the goods.
He then projected that if nothing is done about expanding the road in that axis, it will be another Apapa in the making.
He noted that Dangote Group has already forged another partnership with the government to expand the road leading to the Lekki Port, adding that the project has already reached 20% completion.
The Deep Sea access road construction approval was part of the 274.9 kilometers road construction contract, which is said to worth N309.92 billion to Dangote Group, under the Government Roads Infrastructure Tax Credit Policy.
Lack of proper regulations
According to Dangote, another major obstacle to trade at the ports, is that there are no proper regulations. He stated that after paying all the charges in the port, there are still checkpoints outside the ports where they charge extra on what is paid for inside.
“By the time you pay terminal charges and demurrage, and all the other illegal points of collection, you cannot be competitive with international producers,” he said.
Stakeholders say inefficient processes and procedures, and a litany of extortions at the seaports has made the nation’s gateway uncompetitive. Some stakeholders have alleged that cargo clearance costs eight times more than goods, a situation that has made operators seek alternatives at the ports of neighbouring countries.
Dangote is just telling the truth and exposing the inefficiencies and exploitation by workers at the Nigerian port which needs not be so to encourage bilateral trade.