A chieftain of the Federation of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria (FACAN), Mr Peter Bakare on Thursday urged the Federal Government to provide an alternative seaport to the Apapa Port and revive other moribund ports for export of agricultural produce.
Bakare who is the Deputy Executive Secretary, FECAN indicated this in Abuja, stressing the need to urgently eliminate the intractable delay at the Apapa port, saying it was time-consuming, cumbersome, expensive for exporters and adversely affecting the revenue base of the country.
He said that the delay being experienced by exporters was taking a toll on their produce thereby making them to lose freshness resulting to their being rejected at their countries of destination.
“The delay is as a result of congestion at the Apapa Port and deplorable state of the road should be cause of concern for government, and must be urgently addressed,’’ he said.
Bakare said that the duration of time spent on the queue to get into the port did a lot of havoc to the freshness and reduced the market value of the products, thereby creating negative effect on the image of the country across the globe.
He said that most of the commodities that were on high demand outside the country and adjudged the best globally always lost value as a result of the long delays.
The commodities include sesame seeds, cotton, yams, and pineapple, among others.
“Most of the goods are not supposed to spend more than one or two weeks after harvest but as a result of the delay at the Apapa gridlock and the inside the port, such produce will end up using at least one month before export.
“By the time such goods get to the export base it has lost value and the exporter may eventually lose the business and pay fine for breach of contract because all exports are contract based,’’ he said.
Bakare said that the country was endowed with many seaports, which were now moribund but could be revived as an immediate option to ensure that exports met the deadline and the terms of the contract.
According to him, Niger Delta is endowed with concentration of seaports that can be revived instead of allowing them to waste away and the country’s other seaports such as Calabar, Koko and Port Harcourt are underutilised or abandoned.
“In the whole of Nigeria, there is no State with concentration of seaports like Delta such as Warri, what about Sapele seaport, Burutu seaports, Forcardos and also Koko port which is adjudged the deepest natural harbour in West Africa,’’ he said.
The secretary said that if these ports were revived and put to use, it would have a ripple effect on the economy of the State, generate revenue for the three tiers of government, and create easy access for exporters and job opportunities for the youths.
Bakare said that most of the farmers were not willing to farm again because of the losses, while the exporters were also incurring more debts.
According to him, many of the produce exporters are so much indebted to banks, while some of the commodities are returned back to the country because they have lost value.