The poor state of Nigeria’s port facilities is responsible for the high cost of cooking gas. A representative of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) stated this at an event in Lagos. Lagos ports are the only one capable of discharging the gas from large ships, after which it is distributed to other parts of the country.
The inability of other ports to handle such large volumes is failure on the part of the government and port operators. Efforts by the NLNG to fix the Calabar port, while admirable are not part of the company’s duties. Ironically, obstacles like this work against policies of the government that seek to reduce dependence on fire wood by the lower class in society. Thus increasing desertification in the Northern part of the country.
Operators at the port which include Intels Logistics Limited and Ecomarine Terminals Limited have complained of poor patronage and the government not fulfilling its own side of the concession agreement signed in 2006. This is a recurring pattern with the government which is more interested in collecting revenue from privatization than investing in the sector. The 2001 auction of GSM licences generated millions of dollars revenue for the Federal Government. The telecommunication firms ended up providing infrastructure for themselves, leading to increased operating costs passed on to the consumer.
Using the Lagos ports as the major centre for LPG distribution means that cooking gas will be more expensive for consumers living at the outskirts of the state and beyond. Data from the March 2017 National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Cooking Gas Report showed that Yobe state had the highest average price for filling a 12.5kg gas cylinder at N5500. Ogun state had the lowest average price of filling a 12.5kg gas cylinder at N4636.36. Reliance on the Lagos port for major imports means it will face congestion, and be less efficient in clearing goods.
One hopes the government in its review of the concession agreements will take these factors into consideration. Sadly, government reviewing agreements is an indirect way of increasing fees collected by it. The intended rehabilitation of the Calabar port by NLNG, will not be immediate. Nigerians living outside Lagos may have to continue paying high prices for cooking gas in the foreseeable future.