Maersk, Safmarine deny dumping Lagos, as port challenges affect operations

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Despite challenges affecting their operations in Lagos port, Maersk, the world’s largest container carrier, and Safmarine, a subsidiary of Maersk, have both denied relocating their shipping operations from Lagos, a state that has lost some companies in recent years.

Maersk, a Danish business conglomerate with activities in the transport, logistics and energy sectors, said it was sticking to Lagos and not planning an exit from the port, which has been a problem for many companies due to its congested condition.

The company had reportedly stated in January 2020 that its vessels would be heading for Rivers State’s Onne Port, South-South, Nigeria instead of Lagos, as it intended to suspend operations within Lagos port. Maersk said the break from Lagos port would be effective from January this year.

“it is our pleasure to announce that our Far East (China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore) service will no longer be calling at Lagos Ports but now comes to Onne directly, giving you a reduced transit time. This is effective this Jan 2020,” Maersk had said in a Vanguard report.

But in a recent customer advisory issued separately, Punch reported that Maersk and Safmarine would continue operations in the Lagos Port regardless of the challenges its company is facing.

The report added that, “The West Africa market continues to be dynamic and market demand fluctuates significantly from quarter to quarter.

“Currently we are experiencing severe delays in Lagos due to highly utilised terminal yards, crane break-downs and long trucking queues.”

Why Lagos port is a problem: Lagos Ports is the official port designation for about 90% Nigerian cargo. Its congestion has been affecting business operations of companies and this has cost companies millions of naira.

That’s why some companies are now seeking alternative to the Lagos port. NASCON Allied Industries Plc, one of the many subsidiaries of Dangote Industries Limited, moved some of its operations away from Apapa area of Lagos to Oregun and Port Harcourt. The company’s Managing Director, Paul Farrer, said the decision to move its operations was in response to the lingering gridlock in Apapa.

Farrer said the Apapa gridlock was one of the key risks to the company’s business last year (2018). He added that the Apapa gridlock affected the movement of raw materials to Oregun, timely delivery of finished goods to customers, and increased turn-around time of the company’s trucks.

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