In particular, local transport costs in Lagos are more than seven times higher than in Tema and Durban, largely thanks to perpetual congestion at the Apapa port. Poor access roads and long waiting times at the port’s entrance often cause backups of container-laden trucks stretching 10km (6 miles), resulting in traffic jams on the city’s major highways and bridges.

The congestion and inefficiency comes at a significant price for Nigeria’s economy. After implementing reforms at its port in Lome, Togo has seen container traffic rise more than three-fold since 2013. It now surpasses Lagos as the leading port by container traffic in West Africa.

The Nigerian government has attempted reforms at the Apapa port, including mandating 24-hour operations and attempting to clamp down on entrenched bribery, but a lack of enforcement has meant those measures have not fully taken hold.

The long-term effect is that import costs into Nigeria will likely remain expensive from anywhere in the world. While SBM Intel’s data only tracked imports from European Union countries, shipping costs from the US to Nigeria are similarly expensive. While Nigeria is closer to New York than South Africa is in terms of nautical miles, it costs nearly twice as much for someone to ship a package from New York to Lagos than to Cape Town.

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