Lagos – Mr Obinna Okoafor, a maritime expert, says Nigeria’s desire of becoming a regional port hub for freight in the West and Central Africa Region may no longer be achieved.
Okoafor, a Licensed Customs Broker, made the observation while reacting to the Port of Dakar Senegal-Belgium partnership agreement signed on Friday.
He said that with the agreement, Nigeria’s desire of becoming a regional maritime hub was under threat.
The maritime expert told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Sunday that the two ports were working to collaborate closely in the years ahead.
According to him, the Port of Antwerp, the second-largest port in Europe, seeks to reinforce its historic position as leader on the coast of West Africa by partnering Dakar Port.
“The Dakar port, on its part, is leveraging on the collaboration as a way to position itself as the main regional hub for freight for the region, a position Nigeria is eyeing.
“By the time all necessary formalities are put in place by the two countries while Nigeria ports are still contending with lack of desired infrastructure, the port of Dakar will take the status of the regional maritime hub.
“It is not in Nigeria’s interest to lose the regional maritime hub status to another country going by its efforts and contributions to peace process in the region,’’ Okoafor said.
He said it would amount to exporting the much needed jobs to Senegal, while Nigerian youths walloped in joblessness.
He called on port managers to fast track policies aimed at port development to make the Nigerian ports attractive to shippers.
NAN reports that with an annual freight volume of 17 million tonnes, Dakar is one of the largest ports on the coast of West Africa.
The port city occupies a uniquely strong position on the world.
The signing ceremony was attended by Belgian First Minister, Charles Michel and its Deputy First Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation, Alexander De Croo, both on a working visit to Senegal.(NAN)