Cocoa exporters are increasingly moving their beans through Nigeria’s Calabar port, as prolonged congestion at the Lagos seaports continues.
The port, in the east of the country, is normally associated with ferrying passengers short distances by boat to nearby areas, including neighbouring Cameroon.
The Vanguard Maritime Report has recently observed that the passengers on some of these boats are sharing the journey with containers of cocoa beans Reportedly, a total of 80 containers have been loaded through the Calabar port so far.
Of these, three passenger boats loaded with a mix of passengers and cargo, have departed from the National Inland Waterways Authority jetty, and Hudson jetty in Calabar since 15th February. It is unclear if this is in breach of safety regulations, and we fear for passenger boats being overloaded.
Financial burden of delays
President of the Cocoa Farmers Association Nigeria, CFAN, Comrade Adeola Adegoke, reacted to the news, claiming that the move to the Eastern Port was necessary for some exporters, in order to meet delivery timelines and reduce delays to their international customers.
Adegoke does not seem surprised by the development, stating.
If you are observant, you would have been aware that a lot of exporters have been complaining about the congestion in the Lagos ports in the past two years or so
In September 2021, Vanguard reported on 6000 abandoned containers across ports in Nigeria, with Lagos holding most of them. The delays are costly to exporters, bringing great financial losses as cocoa beans can spend up to two months sitting in ports, waiting to be shipped. It should come as no surprise then, that cocoa exporters are looking for alternative locations to ship their beans from.
This is exactly what is happening in the meeting with signed contracts between exporters and their clients abroad…This development has caused a lot of financial burden on exporters and led to extra cost for the exportation of cocoa. This has also made some of our exporters move to Calabar port, and they have gotten the necessary approval, which has also led to massive shipment of cocoa beans through Calabar.Adegoke
It is not clear when the congestion at Lagos will be resolved, though the move to the Calabar port could be a necessary step for exporters to continue operations with minimal financial loss. But we do hope that corners are not being cut, and lives put at risk on overloaded boats that were not built for the purpose for which they are now employed.