In addition to plans for new ports such as Lekki, which has recently been commissioned, Nigeria is planning a programme to modernise existing hubs in order to solve the problem of congestion, which is affecting its commercial competitiveness.
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has announced plans to invest nearly USD 1.1 billion in the rehabilitation of the country's port infrastructure by the first quarter of 2024. According to Mohammed Bello-Koko, Director of the NPA, most of the investment will be devoted to work at the country's main ports (Apapa and Tin Can Island).
"The authority's objective is to improve the physical infrastructure of these ports to accommodate ships of all sizes and to increase the draught of the quays. The increase in draught is aimed at achieving water depths of up to 14 metres, which will make Nigerian ports more competitive on a global scale", he explained.
The programme is part of the structural reforms undertaken to restore the operational efficiency of port hubs prior to the planned development of a 25-year master plan to restructure the entire industry.
As part of these reforms, the NPA recently introduced a rail network for the collection of goods at the port of Apapa, and plans to extend the initiative to the ports of Tin Can Island and Onne with a view to limiting congestion. This should be complemented by the installation of scanners in the ports and a programme to digitalise services.
The two main ports located in Lagos have been operating at full capacity for several years, due to the ageing and limited capacity of the facilities, which means that these platforms are faced with ongoing congestion, encouraging the diversion of traffic to neighbouring ports.
The World Bank had indicated in a report that congestion at the port of Apapa had become so infernal that heavy goods vehicles could spend several days crossing the last 5 kilometres to enter the port.