Container throughput in Lagos ports is expected to hit 2 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in the next six years, Managing Director, APM Terminals Apapa Limited, Mr. Dallas Hampton has said.
APM Terminals Apapa Limited is one of the subsidiaries of Danish port operations and logistic giant, AP Moller-Maersk Group, which is the concessionaire of Apapa Container Terminal (ACT), Lagos- Africa's largest container terminal.
Hampton disclosed in a paper titled: "An overview of the Nigerian Ports' Location as a Major Determinant of the Greenfield Port Success in Nigeria" at the First Nigerian Green Ports Development Summit organised by Golden Edge Consult Limited in collaboration with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos.
Hampton whose paper was delivered by the firm's Media Adviser, Mr. Bolaji Akinola, also revealed that the maximum capacity that the ports and Inland Container Depots (ICDs) in Lagos could accommodate was 2.2 million TEUs.
He pointed out that Lagos ports, which comprise Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa and Tin Can Island Port Complex TCIP), were already congested and rely heavily on ICDs.
As a way out of the challenge ahead, he made a case for Greenfield port development in several locations across the country.
His words: "Lagos ports alone handle 90 percent of the cargo in and out of Nigeria. With container volumes forecasted for Lagos, the combine capacity of Apapa fully developed and Tin Can Island Port and all the ICDs in Lagos area is expected to be inadequate within the next six years. The same situation also applies to general cargo terminals. A new port will be needed to keep up with the demand for capacity as the existing ports are surrounded by the city and cannot be further expanded".
Hampton explained that new port development would give investors the opportunity to choose optimal geographical location, terminal design and layout plus processes.
"The natural location, the supporting infrastructure and the support of stakeholders are key success of a Greenfield port. In choosing the location of a Greenfield port, the factors that must be considered include natural deepwater and harbour and supporting navigational channels with commensurate draft. "Other factors include lower risk of encroachment of city development in the immediate future, connection to multimodal infrastructure for evacuation of cargo by road, rail and barge, government support to the investors with policies that will protect investments, presence of adequate supporting services and review of cargo clearance processes to support faster cargo evacuation and reduce dwell time", he said.
He said some investors were already looking at areas like Lekki, Badagry, Olokola and Ogogoro for Greenfield port development.
"APM Terminals as a port developer is not averse to seeking new opportunities in Nigeria under the right conditions," he declared.
According to him, the concession of ACT to APM Terminals in 2006 has enhanced efficiency at the port and eliminated congestion and vessel queue thereby saving the Nigerian economy $200 million annually which used to be collected by shipping lines as congestion surcharge.
Erstwhile Managing Director, NPA, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, chaired the summit which also attracted other stakeholders including the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, chief executives of parastatals in the ministry, freight forwarders and other key players in the maritime sector of the economy.