Determined to ensure speedy and seamless processing of export cargoes accessing Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in Lagos, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has on commissioned the first Export Processing Terminal at Lilypond in Ijora, Lagos.
Diamond Star Export Processing Terminal in Ijora will also serve as a pre-gate from where export goods will move directly into the port. It is expected to help Nigeria optimise the benefits inherent in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement as greater efficiency will be infused into the logistics surrounding the entry of export boxes into the ports for onward loading on vessels.
Mohammed Bello-Koko, managing director of the NPA, who commissioned the terminal, said the terminal will help to reduce wastages and rejection of Nigerian export goods, and also reduce the time wasted before exports gain access to the port.
According to him, there have been several cases of rejection of export originating from Nigeria, which could be attributed to time wastages and spending longer time at the port, but the terminal will ensure speedy processing of exports.
The NPA boss said the initiative is in line with the NPA’s commitment to the implementation of the National Action Plan on agro-export and the Federal Government’s desire to diversify the national economy from oil to non-oil export.
He said the NPA is also working to integrate the Central Bank of Nigeria’s NXP (Nigeria Export Proceed Form) into the electronic call-up regime.
“The need for Export Processing Terminals is underscored by the limitations of current port facilities in the Lagos area which are operating beyond their built capacity for cargo handling. The export terminals will serve as holding areas positioned in Lagos and Ogun States to help exporters prepare the arrival at port terminals in view of the traffic management challenges that are visible in Lagos,” Bello-Koko said.
He said the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has served as the technical partner of the NPA through the journey of setting up the terminals.
Bello-Koko, however, applauded the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), for creating an export command, saying that the authority will work with the Customs’ export command to bring up seamless modalities that will govern export trade.
“We are also working to integrate barge and train movements to complete the circle in collaboration with Nigerian Customs. The movement of export boxes from the Lilypond Export Terminal shall be directly through Warehouse Road to cut down on time for arrival at the port. Similarly, movement of export boxes to Tin-Can Island Port shall be from the DiamondStar consolidation point at Emmadunamix Terminal in Okota,” he added.
On his part, Ezra Yakusak, the executive director/CEO of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, who was represented by Haruna Ali, said the terminal will help to create more room to increase the volume of non-oil export in Nigeria.
Adeyanju Aremu, the assistant comptroller general of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Zone A, said the service had developed Standard Operating Procedure in line with global standards to remove impediments along the export value chain.
Aremu however urged the users of the port to take advantage of Customs’ commitment to the facilitation of legitimate trade to excel in their business and put Nigeria on the global map of top non-oil exporters.
“We are confident this terminal will serve the purpose for which it was established as the initiative is quite apt and coming at a time the country really needs a paradigm shift. Nigeria is no doubt blessed with enormous natural agro-based resources which if well harnessed can lead to accelerated growth in our GDP,” she said.
She, however, advised exporters of agro-based products to adhere to both regional and international market standards to enable them to compete favourably in the international market.
Olatunji Baale, managing director of Diamond Star Port and Terminals Limited, said the company has the capability and competence to render prompt services to exporters and other stakeholders in the value chain.
According to him, there would be seamless delivery of export boxes, and the terminal is a one-stop-shop that houses all the government agencies in the export value chain.
Baale said that the terminal can handle about 50,000 boxes of export containers on a weekly basis, and will help to grow Nigeria’s export trade by reducing the trade imbalance.