The Managing Drector of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko, commissioned the first Export Processing Terminal in Lagos on Tuesday to facilitate export-bound cargo access to the Lagos Seaports – Apapa and Tin-Can Island.
The Diamond Star EPT, the first of ten licenced terminals to be commissioned by the NPA, will allow Nigeria to maximise the benefits inherent in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
The NPA boss told Leadership at the event that the initiative demonstrates the NPA’s commitment to implementing the National Action Plan on agro-export and the FG’s desire to diversify the national economy away from oil export and toward non-oil export.
He did, however, state that the authority was in a position to improve the logistics surrounding the entry of export boxes into ports and eventual loading on sea-going vessels.
“The launch of this and other terminals also strategically positions Nigeria to optimise the advantages of the benefits inherent in the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. The need for the Export Processing Terminals is underscored by the limitations of current port facilities in the Lagos area which are operating beyond their ‘as built capacity’ for cargo handling,” he said.
He explained that the EPTs are holding areas located in Lagos and Ogun States to assist exporters in preparing their arrival at port terminals in light of the traffic management challenges visible in Lagos.
Bello-Koko, on the other hand, praised the Nigeria Customs Service for establishing an export command, claiming that the authority was well aware of the existence of export warehouses handling manufactured goods.He stated that the NPA will collaborate with Customs’ export command to develop seamless modalities to govern that aspect.
Bello-Koko further stressed, “To emphasise the importance of export in our strategy, movement of export boxes from the Lilypond Export Terminal shall be directly through Warehouse Road to cut down on time for arrival into the port. Similarly, movement of export boxes to Tin-Can Island Port shall be from the DiamondStar consolidation point at Emmadunamix Terminal, Okota.”
Olatunji Baale, managing director of Diamond Star Port and Terminals Limited, stated that the company has the capability and competence to provide prompt services to exporters and other value chain stakeholders.
According to Baale, the terminal can handle approximately 50,000 boxes of export containers per week and will help to grow Nigeria’s export trade by reducing the trade imbalance.
Adeyanju Aremu, Assistant Comptroller General , Nigeria Customs Service, Zone A, said the service has developed Standard Operating Procedure to remove impediments along the export value chain.