The management of Port of Antwerp International has urged the Federal Government to adopt the multimodal transport system as one of the solutions to the congestion within the nations ports roads, urging the country to shift from the over dependence on roads for cargo evacuation.
Manager, Port Projects, Port of Antwerp International, Mr. Philippe Droesbeke, stated this when he led a delegation on a courtesy visit to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) in Lagos on Thursday.
Droesbeke said that the visit was to share Port of Antwerp’s experiences with other ports abroad as the company set up a subsidiary dealing with consultancy in the management of ports and different fields on terminal and ports processes.
He stated that the Port of Antwerp handles over 140 million tonnes of cargoes annually, but deploys multimodal approach for cargo evacuation with rail carrying 50 percent, barges responsible for 40 percent, while the roads only handle 10 percent.
He said, “We are a daughter company of the Port of Antwerp and we are really internationally focused. We have an MoU with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and work with them on different aspects, but we are also partnering several private companies to improve port process.”
Droesbeke also stressed that logistics infrastructure should be developed in Nigeria to meet the needs and location of exportable goods.
“If perishables are on the west side in the country, development shouldn’t be focused on the eastern part of the country. It will not be logical to do that at all,” he said.
While corroborating Droesbeke’s views on port development and supporting infrastructure, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Hassan Bello, stated that Nigeria has identified these issues and prioritizes them in the development of deep seaports.
“On interconnectivity, we have seaports and we have inland ports which we call dry ports. We are interested in having these dry ports meet international standards and expectations. They should also boost the Nigerian economy, especially for our export, we want to make the dry ports export centers.
“There are other things that must be there at seaports and dry ports like; consolidation centers, stripping of containers, warehousing, companies that process and add value to agricultural products and also packaging companies,” the NSC boss said.
Bello agreed that there is a need for NSC to have a study on the other values that will make seaports and dry ports more efficient, and a holistic improvement in the country’s logistics chain to reduce transport cost and also have competitive products in the global market.
“Nigerian products suffer from packaging sometimes and so many other things. This is also one area which we may have interest in because we have to correct it,” Bello added.
Also speaking during the courtesy visit, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian-Belgian Chamber of Commerce in Lagos, Paulette Van Trier expressed delight at the meeting, noting that the Chamber has been working assiduously to improve trade between both countries.
“We are trying to ensure produce to the ports is timely so that the goods can get to the international market and spread all around the world. We hope that we can work together, have a positive partnership and improve exports from Nigeria, thanks to the Shippers’ Council.”
“As a Chamber, we aren’t asking for money. We just want farmers and other exporters to know how the process is done globally. We are providing Nigerians with examples via teachings and training to make people aware of global best standards and practices,” she said.