The lines of aging blue, red and yellow trucks begin almost 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the gates of Nigeria’s main port of Apapa.
Valentine, a 34-year-old driver, has been queuing outside the Lagos site for two weeks. He’s had to deal with policemen demanding bribes and fend off hoodlums known as area boys. “This is the worst I’ve seen it,” he said, changing tires in a grimy orange t-shirt. “Every year, it gets worse.”
The congestion outside and inefficiency within Nigeria’s ports is choking the economy, which vies with South Africa as the continent’s biggest, and causes havoc for businesses that use them to import everything from cars to computers, food and machinery.
Nigeria loses $19 billion annually, or about 5 percent of gross domestic product, from the delays, traffic, illegal charges and insecurity that are increasingly prevalent at its ports, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry said in a report this year.
In the World Bank’s Trading Across Borders survey, which measures the time and expense involved with importing and exporting goods, Nigeria ranks 182nd out of 190 countries, below Syria and Afghanistan.