- Experts predict further decline until Q3
Cargo throughput and seaport activities have recorded an all-time low in the first six weeks of 2023 as dwindling imports estimated to be over 30 percent have been recorded at the Nigerian seaports.
The Chairman of Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup revealed this during a recent breakfast meeting organized by the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS), last week.
Haastrup, who was one of the panelists at the event themed: “Nigeria’s 2023 Economic Outlook: Special Focus on Maritime Shipping Industry,” posited that the drop in port activities have been attributed to numerous factors.
While noting that the upcoming Presidential elections and the uncertainties have been influential, she stressed that foreign exchange remains the major setback as the purchasing power of importers had weakened further with $/800 recorded in the parrallel market, last week.
According to Vicky Haastrup, the growing economic hardship coupled with government fiscal policies on certain imports like Customs duties on vehicles will also define the cargo volumes to be recorded at ports throughout the year.
Her words: “This year, it is going to be very gloomy. We have a downward turn of about 30% cargoes and upto 40 percent for general cargoes. The first quarter and second quarter in 2023 will see lower importation until after the elections. Naira devaluation is also a major issue with N800/$ in the parrallel market. Nigeria is a cash-based economy and right now there isn’t enough cash.”
She also expressed worry that the federal government plans to further devalue the naira even as she noted that gridlock and port access obstacles have affected terminal operations and Nigeria’s competitiveness in the region over the years.
“Gridlock really affects our business and makes the port environment unconducive for business. We have serious challenges in getting trucks to evacuate cargoes. ENL has an average of 300 trucks daily to evacuate cargoes. For the past 8 years it has been very challenging. This affects the way businesses are done and delays the turnaround time of ships. Each ship loses money by delays caused by the gridlock,” she explained.