Seaports In Nigeria And Their Locations

Seaports In Nigeria And Their Location

Nigeria is the eighth largest petroleum exporter in the world and is also rich in minerals, natural gas, coal, limestone, gold, tin, bauxite, and other mineral resources. Seaports in Nigeria are a means by which these resources are exchanged with other nations.

A good percent of citizens live in rural areas and are employed in the agricultural sector, growing beans, cassava, nuts, cocoa, maize, rice, sorghum, and rubber, which are major export crops.

The seaports in Nigeria have contributed to the large-scale production of leather goods and textiles, cars, plastics, and canned food, and this has resulted in a developing financial sector and a manufacturing industry in the nation.

Seaports In Nigeria

With a coastline of 853-kilometer length, Nigeria is facing the Atlantic Ocean which hosts the country’s six major seaports engaged in maritime trade with Brazil, China, India, Japan, the United States, and the European Union Countries.

In this article, we’ll explain all you need to know about the seaports in Nigeria and their locations.

What Are The Problems With Seaports In Nigeria

The problems with seaports in Nigeria are listed below: 

1. Absence Of Deep Seaport

One major challenge of seaports in Nigeria is that they do not have deeper draughts to enable them to handle bigger vessels with economies of scale. 

While modern seaports have a depth of 16.60 meters, and the capacity to accommodate third-generation ships, seaports in Nigeria like Apapa port operate with 13.5 meters draught that can only allow vessels with about 4,000 twenty-foot equivalent units of containers to call the port.

2. Inefficient Cargo Inspection Method

The lack of automated scanning machines and a single window platform has made cargo inspection by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) manual.

With this, thousands of containers that enter seaports in Nigeria are positioned daily for Customs and other agencies to open and carry out physical inspection, which comes with attendant delays.

This results in delay of cargo clearance and its attendant demurrage, and rent costs. With the several units of Customs involved in cargo clearing, the cargo is delayed, leading to additional payments of charges by owners. 

3. Poor Means Of Cargo Evacuation

Over-reliance on road transport has made the mode of cargo evacuation in seaports in Nigeria poor and inefficient.

A good percentage of Nigerian cargoes must be off the road by the use of intermodal transport systems in evacuating goods.

4. Insecurity in Nigerian waters

The entire Gulf of Guinea region and Nigerian territorial waters have been tagged as hotspots for piracy and sea robbery attacks following repeated incidents of attacks recorded in recent times within the region.

As a result, foreign ships coming to Nigeria charge high insurance premiums on cargo. 

Aerial View Of One Of The Seaports In Nigeria

How Many Seaports Are In Nigeria

There are six seaports in Nigeria and they are:

1. Port of Lagos/ Apapa

Lagos port is in Apapa, an area of the Lagos State which is the key commercial hub of Nigeria. It is the oldest and biggest seaport in Nigeria in terms of both land area and volumes of cargo handled.

Apapa port also functions as a transshipment center for inland countries like Chad and Niger and more than half of the Nigerian maritime trade passes through the Apapa quays.

Established in 1913, the port is ranked as one of the most efficient seaports in Nigeria and it is equipped with modern equipment and the latest operating systems for providing cost-effective services to its national and international customers.

Apapa Port has an annual container capacity of over 1,000,000 TEUs and 298 reefer connections. Petroleum products are handled at the eight jetties. The port has four tank farms for storing refined petroleum products.

The port has implemented electronic procedures such as fixed berthing windows, real-time visibility of transactions, performance reviews, and technical support, and this is handled by APM Terminals.

2. Port of Tin Can Island

The Tin Can Island port was established in 1975 and is one of the seaports in Nigeria and the second busiest. The Tin Can island was constructed as growing import and export trade led to congestion of the Lagos port for diverting excess cargo.

Tin Can Island Port Complex was created with the merger of the erstwhile RORO port and Tin Can Island ports and Its capacity was further enhanced with the opening of the new container terminal In 2006.

This port handles diverse cargo types including liquid bulk, dry cargo, containerized goods, RORO, and breakbulk on its 12 berths spanning 1358 meters, with an alongside depth ranging from 7 to 11 meters. 

The Tin Can Island port employs about 700 people after significant infrastructural developments have been undertaken. The Tin Can Container terminal has 8 mobile cranes, 15 rubber-tired gantries, 14 reach stackers, 6 empty handlers, 4 forklifts, and 45-yard trailers. 

3. Calabar Port

The Calabar port is one of the seaports in Nigeria. It is a multi-purpose port, it is managed by Nigeria Ports Authority and consists of three terminals operated by ECM Terminal Ltd, INTELS Nigeria Ltd, and Shoreline Logistics Nigeria Limited. The port became operational in 1979 and lies 45 nautical miles upstream from the Fairway buoy. 

The Calabar Port handles approximately 240,000 tonnes of general cargo, 10,000 TEUs, and 9,600,000 tonnes of crude oil annually. Calabar port has served the Northern states of Nigeria by handling containers, general cargo, bagged cement, grains, and seafood since colonial times.

The port has two conventional berths at the old port covering 450 meters for accommodating breakbulk carriers and also has a dockyard and four crude oil terminals at Anan, Odudu, Yoho, and Qualboe.

Calabar port houses the La Farge cement plant and a milling facility.

4. Port of Onne

Onne Port is one of the seaports in Nigeria and lies on the River Bonny along the creek of Ogu. The port was established as a free port zone to serve the oil and gas sector of West Africa. The refurbished port consists of a Federal Ocean Terminal and the Federal Lighter Terminal and can accommodate the latest ocean-going vessels

The specialized terminals handle bulk cargo, containers, raw materials, steel, fertilizers, coal, and finished products. 

Onne Port has three terminals that are operated by private companies. The Brawal terminal for receiving container ships and conventional cargo vessels has a 370 m long linear quay with a depth of 9.5 m. 

The biggest oil and gas-free zone in Africa is the INTELS terminal. The deepwater facility has a 15 m channel draft and a 160,680 m2 warehouse area for keeping containers and breakbulk.

The West Africa Container Terminal accommodates the largest container vessels and it has a 25-hectare storage yard and a total quay length of 570 metres with a draft of 12 metres.

5. Port of Harcourt

Harcourt Port is one of the seaports in Nigeria and is located in the Gulf of Guinea, also called the Rivers Port complex. This port is an important transshipment hub for Niger and Chad. The Harcourt Port is also a railway terminus and a major Nigerian coal export harbor, handling 810,000 tonnes of cargo annually.

The port is equipped with 16 tanks of 3050-tonne capacity for storing oil and petroleum products. This multipurpose facility acts as a mother port for numerous jetties lying close to the port premises. The port is strategically positioned in one of the world’s biggest crude oil production zones.

6. Port of Warri

The Warri port is one of the seaports in Nigeria and was constructed in the late 1980s to serve the west delta region and attract oil companies. The port lies between Lagos and Onne port and enjoys an advantageous position. It was declared a Free Zone in 2011.

The Warri Port covers 1,530,000 m2 and is divided into the Warri new port and the old port that deals with RORO, containers, and general cargo. The port is endowed with the latest equipment such as 5 cranes, 9 forklifts, 3 trailers, 8 port trucks, etc. An industrial zone is adjacent to the port and houses factories, processing units, and offices of shipping companies.

How Do You Clear Your Goods At The Seaport In Nigeria

Below are the clearance procedures to clear your goods at any of the seaports in Nigeria.

The first step is to submit relevant documents for Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) issuance through the bank that issues Form M. The documents to be submitted are

  1. Form M
  2. Original Bill of Lading
  3. Packing List
  4. Proforma invoice or commercial invoice
  5. CCVO (Combine Certificate for Value and Origin for the imported goods
  6. Certificates that may be issued by agencies like NAFDAC, SON (SONCAP)
  7. Letter headed application for value and PAAR

The documents will be sent to the bank headquarters through local courier companies. Contact your bank account officer to facilitate and monitor the process for any discrepancies that may occur during the process.

The PAAR issued will be sent to the importer email or printed at any of the bank branches in Nigeria. 

The importer can hand the activities over to a qualified and licensed customs agent, agency, or company. 

The PAAR document will be captured or punched for assessment notice. The assessment notice document will be presented to the bank of which Form M was issued to make payment and the bank will issue Customs Duty Payment Confirmation document. This is the proof of customs duty payment.

After this or before this process, shipping and terminal fees will be requested by the customs agent. Only the original bill of lading for shipping and terminal fee documents are needed. The customs agent will proceed to the terminal to request for examination of the containers or the groupage. 

Inspection of the goods is done by various agencies like Customs, SON, NAFDAC, Quarantine, SSS, Anti Bomb Squad, and others. The examiners will fill out the certificate of examination document. The customs Investigation unit will trigger the INSPECTION ACT which will be joint actions of the other agencies. 

Containers At One Of The Seaports In Nigeria

The next procedure will be shipping company goods release. The inspection act will be presented to the shipping company releasing officer for shipping release. The documents that are presented are a stamped and signed bill of lading by the customs agency and the importer, a Letter headed letter of Authority by the importer, a photocopy of the authorized identification Card with the phone number written on it, a letter of authority by the customs agency.

The customs agent will present all the customs documents and shipping documents with all payments made to the terminal management for terminal release and GATE PASS. Afterward, the containers or the pallets will be loaded on the truck. Waybill and terminal pass will be issued for easy delivery of the goods. Remember that the agency and handling fee will be paid to the freight forwarder or the company that handles the whole process.


Seaports are mainly for importing and exporting goods. They are large maritime facilities that are built very close to the sea where ships dock to load and discharge goods (cargo) and passengers. Seaports in Nigeria are majorly operated to import and export goods. They are the point of entry or exit for different types of goods.

The seaports in Nigeria and their uniqueness have been unveiled in this article.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the first seaport in Nigeria?

Apapa Quays is the first seaport in Nigeria.
The Port was established in 1913 and construction of the first four deep-water berths commenced in 1921.

Who owns the port of Lagos?

The new Lekki Deep Sea Port is 75 percent owned by the China Harbour Engineering Company and Singapore’s Tolaram Group, with the balance shared between the Lagos state government and the Nigerian Ports Authority

Which town is the most important seaport in Nigeria?

The major Ports include; the Lagos Port Complex and Tin Can Island Port Complex both in Lagos State.

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