According to the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents'(ANLCA) president Hon Iju Nwabunike, the resulting loss of revenue to Nigeria is heavy because Benin is paying huge transport cost for transporting its transit cargo from the Cotonou port in Benin to Maradi in Niger, reported Lagos New Telegraph.
Speaking at the AMJON Monthly Roundtable in Lagos organised by the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria, Mr Nwabunike said it would be cheaper for Niger to transit cargo from the Kaduna Dry Port (250 kilometres to Maradi) or Kano Inland Container Terminal (150 kilometres to Maradi), than from the Cotonou sea port.
Mr Nwabunike, who is also a director of ICNL, operators of the Kaduna Dry Port, regretted that since Kaduna Dry Port was inaugurated in January 2018, it has been confronted with several challenges including an ineffective rail transporting system and poor state of the roads from Lagos to Kaduna.
But he said the most daunting challenge is the failure of shipping companies to send cargo directly to the dry port and add the cost of land transportation from Lagos to the dry port, in the tariff chargeable on the cargo. He expressed fears that the action of the shipping companies might be aimed at sabotaging the success of the Kaduna Dry Port.
Mr Nwabunike further warned that unless the Kaduna Dry Port is up and running effectively soon, Nigeria could forever lose the 100,000 TEU of Niger's transit cargoes as Benin Republic is constructing a 1,500-kilometre standard gauge rail line from Cotonou port to Maradi. He said that 800 kilometres of the new rail line has already been completed.
"When that rail line is completed, it will reduce the cost of transportation of cargoes from Cotonou to Maradi." He said the only advantage that Nigeria has over Benin is to snatch the Niger transit cargo traffic from them is the low cost of transportation Nigeria offers to Niger shippers. "Otherwise, they are more emotionally attached to Benin which is their fellow French speaking nation than to us."
He added that to make the bad situation worse: "Our recent closure of our borders with them, has turned them against us. In fact, they almost mobbed us during our recent visit to that country to explain to them why they should use the Kaduna Dry Port."