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The West Africa Container Terminal (WACT), a Greenfield terminal built by the APM Terminals with the Federal Government under a public, private partnership, has invested in building a new container freight station (CFS) at the Port of Onne, Rivers State, Nigeria.
The 1,520m2 facility, which is the first of its kind in Eastern Nigeria – provides farmers with an opportunity to grow their businesses by exporting goods such as cashew nuts and sesame seeds.
While Nigeria has long been dependent on revenue from the oil industry, it is estimated that more than 22 percent of the nation’s GDP is generated from agriculture.
This was why experts believed that increasing focus on agriculture would help Nigeria to increase its sources of foreign exchange revenue, improve its balance of trade by exporting raw materials, and create employment opportunities for Nigerians especially the youths.
“Government drive to encourage exports, particularly of agricultural raw materials, has already created a steady increase in demand for the facility, which is equipped with modern safety and security standards,” says Noah Sheriff, WACT commercial manager.
According to him, CFS, which was established on customers’ and shipping lines’ request, gives customers a ‘one-stop-shop’ experience that provides storage, stuffing, Customs clearance and container weighing services under one roof.
He explains that it reduces costs and waiting time for trucks coming to the terminal, as empty pickups and full export returns are reduced.
“The new facility has the capacity to process 16 twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) per day, during a two-shift operation. Seven staff are usually on duty and two forklift trucks are in place to assist with offloading and stuffing. Local farmers are most likely to benefit from the new facility. In the past, due to delays, there were instances where export containers arrived too late for vessels,” says Sheriff.
CFS reduces logistics costs because it facilitates timely cargo directly to the terminal, which saves the cost of hiring trucks to pick up empties and to deliver export-full containers to the terminal.
Findings have shown that previously, the complexity of stuffing containers for export forced most farmers to sell their produce to consolidators locally. This eats into their profit margins but the service is now provided directly to farmers at the CFS.
Then, few farmers that were able to export, the only option previously was a CFS located outside the port. They delivered their cargo there and then hired a trucks to collect empty containers from the port, arranged for Customs and other inspection agents to visit the CFS, stuffed the containers outside the port and delivered them back to the port as full export containers.
Sequencing these activities was cumbersome and created a complex logistics challenges for the farmers but with the new CFS, farmers can simply deliver their cargo directly to the terminal to enable them complete all other activities.