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Nigeria’s container traffic dropped by 7% in 2023 – Report



Container traffic in Nigeria has declined by 6.85 per cent to 1.57 million twenty-equivalent units, compared to 1.68 million TEUs handled in the previous year, a port performance report presented at the quarterly meeting of the Nigerian Port Consultative Council has shown.

According to the report which was presented in Lagos recently, vessels that called at the Nigerian ports dropped by 4.5 per cent to 3,778 in 2023 from 3,957 vessels in the prior year.

Maritime experts have attributed the decrease in the country’s container traffic to the lingering dollar scarcity, which has led to a significant depreciation of the naira.

In June, the Central Bank of Nigeria unified the various forex market segments, causing the naira to weaken further.

As of Tuesday, the naira was valued at 1,192.94 per US dollar at the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market.

The local currency exchanged around 463.38/$ before the harmonisation of the forex market on June 14.

The report further said that cargo throughput (excluding crude oil) also dropped by 6.4 per cent to 70.47 million metric tonnes during the period under review instead of the 75.27 million metric tonnes recorded in 2022.

However, there was a slight increase in the volume of cargo that came into the country’s ports to 122.87 million tonnes against 120.37 million tonnes in 2022, showing an increase of 2.1 per cent.

“Container traffic during the period under review stood at 1,566,162 TEUs, showing a decrease of 6.8 per cent from 1,681,328 TEUs handled in 2022. Further analysis of container traffic revealed that import container traffic accounted for 55.85 per cent with 874,683 TEUs, while export container traffic stood at 684,586 TEUs, representing 43.71 per cent of total container traffic,” the report stated.

It noted that empty containers accounted for about 80 per cent of total export container traffic.

“The average turn-around time of vessels was 4.0 days, compared with 5.1 days in 2022. It is, however, worth noting that the significant improvement in average turn-around time vessel was brought about by the impact of Lekki Deep Seaport, which achieved a turn-around of only one day.

“The increase in gross registered tonnage despite a drop in the number of vessel calls revealed berthing of bigger vessels, especially at Lekki Port, where the average GRT of the vessel is 45,185 compared to Apapa with 30, 565 GRT. This further gives credence to the importance of a deep sea to the Nigerian Maritime or port development,” the report added.

Reacting to this, the founder of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Mr Lucky Amiwero, said, “The drop was more than 7 per cent. The reduction was more than that, they just estimated.

“The cause of it was the floating of the exchange rate. People were no longer importing. If you go to the ports, they are dry.

“The hardship in the country is too much. Many people cannot even access fund; some SMES have backup,” Amiwero explained.

Also, the Vice President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Mr Nnadi Ugochukwu, said, “That percentage was conservative because with the exchange rate there is no how most importers would go ahead with importation. So, that rate should be higher than that considering the current exchange rate.”



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