Some members of the Barge Operators Association of Nigeria have said bulk cargo traffic to Lagos ports has dropped by 60 per cent as a result of extortion and traffic congestion.
In separate interviews with our correspondent, they said Onne port was witnessing a surge in bulk cargo traffic as a result of this.
According to some members, Onne port is benefitting from excessive charges from terminal operators in Lagos.
A frontline member, Bola Muse, said, “Same as my members said, there is a drastic drop on a barge due to excessive charges from terminal operators and foreigners have taken 80 per cent of our business.
“The traffic in Onne is not as much as that of Lagos. Customers prefer to use Onne for now. Also, there is no support for indigenous firms from the government and there is competition from our foreign counterparts.”
Another barge operator, Ifeanyi Imion, added that Onne port has a better shoreline line than ports in Lagos, giving room for a wider navigation area.
He said, “We have witnessed more than a 60 per cent drop in cargo traffic. This is a major drop. Normally November to January used to be our peak hours, but 2021 until last month was nothing to write home about.
“At times when you come to the ports, it would look like all the jetties are locked up because there is no work. The reason is that most of them have moved back to Port Harcourt. And the few ones that are still left behind are making nothing compared to the ones in PH because of area boys.
“We have a smaller number of vessels on Lagos waters now, I mean containers coming with cargoes and the ones coming to drop their containers. Because even Maersk Line, one of the shipping companies coming with container cargoes to Nigeria, is moving its operations to Port Harcourt.
“Most of the ships now are going to PH deep waters and the shoreline there is better than what we have here in Lagos. Here we have a narrow navigation area compared to PH.
“So, the ships are now going to PH and the importers we have in Nigeria, almost 90 per cent of them are Igbos from the South-East. So PH is closer to their markets or their states. They have gone back and that is why we have less load in Lagos.”