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Nigeria, Ghana battle over N136bn transit cargo

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Barely two years of recovery, Ghana has again launched another trade attack against Nigeria over three million tons of transit cargo valued at N146billion. Transit cargoes are consignments going to landlocked countries from the seaports of other countries. It was gathered that Niger shippers left Nigerian ports for over 10 years when the cost of shipping became unbearable.

Since 2006, New Telegraph gathered that over three million metric tons of Chad and Niger’s cargoes, formerly handled by Nigeria, were taken and shared among Togo, Benin and Ghana ports yearly due to high charges, dwell time, corruption, extortion, congestion levy and poor infrastructure. It was gathered that 30 million tons of Chad and Niger Republic’s cargoes, which are no longer transiting through Nigerian ports, were lost to neighbouring ports in the period. Niger was shipping about 1.5 million metric tons of its cargo from Benin Republic, 1.5 million metric tons in Togo and close to a million metric tons in Ghana, leading to a loss of N1.46trillion in the last between 2006 and 2016.

However, in 2016, Niger and Nigeria struck a bilateral trade agreement to return to Nigerian ports through the efforts of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC). The Executive Secretary of the council, Mr. Hassan Bello, explained in Lagos that he was not comfortable with the way Niger Republic would go all the way to Cote d’ Ivoire and Ghana to transit its cargoes when Nigeria was closer to the land-locked country. Trouble, however, started barely two weeks ago, when Nigerien businessmen called for a closer partnership with Ghana after their meeting in order to capture the opportunities that abound at the Ghanaian seaports.

A delegation from Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPPH) led by its Board Chairman, Mr. Peter Mac Manu went to Niger on a five days trade mission. At the meeting, it was gathered that the delegation told Niger government and private sectors comprising Niger Shippers Council, Niger Chamber of Commerce and other trade groups that Ghana had prepared itself to offer every assistance needed to allow commercially viable and cost effective importation and exportation by the people of Niger through its ports and corridors.

The delegation told the businessmen that GPHA had positioned the Ghanaian corridor to attract more traffic from Niger in view of unfair trade practices in the West African region. Already, transit traffic through the two Ghanaian ports has recorded steady annual growth from 609,320 metric tons in 2014 to 1.25 million metric tons in 2017, representing an increase of 105 per cent.

It would be recalled that before the latest move by Ghana, Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS) had raised the alarm that the country was losing N1trillion from import duties and other charges annually to Cotonou, Lome and Tema ports in West Africa. President of the association, Rev Jonathan Nicol, complained that the bad roads leading to Lagos ports had added to the losses. He noted that importers were diverting their cargoes because of demurrage, terminal charges, dwell time and storage fees charged by shipping companies and terminal operators.

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