Business

State govts stall dry port projects

Fifteen years after, the Inland Container Depots (ICD) across Nigeria have not been able to serve the purpose for which they were established because of the attitude of state governments coupled with other challenges, BAYO AKOMOLAFE report

Clearing of goods by shippers from the ports in Nigeria has been a major challenge in the last two decades because of the inefficiency that characterises port operations.

Dry ports

Because of the inadequacy, events took a new dimension in 2006 when the Federal Executive Council approved plans for six dry ports to be developed under public-private partnerships, using a build-own-operate-transfer model. Eight locations were chosen for the facilities, which will have the same functions as seaports, including the ability to process and clear cargoes through Customs. The approved dry ports located at Ibadan in Oyo State, Isiala Ngwa in Abia State, Jos Heipang in Plateau State, Bichi Village in Bauchi State, Gombe in Gombe State, Bulunkutu in Borno State, Zawachiki in Kano State and Zanfarawa-Funtua in Katsina State, had a combined capacity of 179,000 twenty-footequivalent units. Also, the concessionaires included Catamaran Logistics, Dala Inland Dry Port, Dunca Maritime, Eastgate Terminal, Inland Containers Nigeria, Equatorial Maritime and Migfo Nigeria. Despite this, only Kaduna Dry Port seems to be functioning15 years after, while the Jos ICD is said to have attained 70 per cent completion and expected to generate 5,000 direct jobs upon completion. At the inauguration of the Kaduna Dry Port, President Muhammadu Buhari informed the public on how the government was working to fast track the Plateau State ICD, noting that the inauguration of Kaduna terminal had motivated the Plateau State government to do everything at her disposal to ensure its completion.

Challenges

More importantly, the reality before the importers is the absence of efficient rail network as containers are still been transported to the Kaduna dry port by road.

Also, NSC listed lack of funds and availability of land as major factors affecting the takeoff of inland dry ports across the country. This is as the Buhari administration has shown renewed interest and vigour to ensure that all concession projects are implemented and ready to operate in the country. According to the Deputy Director, Public-Private Partnership, NSC, Mallam Mustapha Zubairu, because of the renewed interest, some of the concessionaires had got finances and divested interest for the projects to be operational. He said: “There are a lot of factors that have affected the early commencement of the project and basically it has to do with funding. Funding was a bit challenging for the concessionaires and this is because the project is capital intensive and not something that can easily be done by an individual. “Another challenge has to do with land. Some state governments have failed to perform their own commitment based on implementation strategy. They are supposed to play key roles toward the provision of basic amenities like access road to the site, perimeter fencing, security, water and others. “Most state governments failed to discharge some of these responsibilities and the most critical of them all is the land to be delivered free from all encumbrances and this was relatively challenging for some state governments.” For instance, Zubairu pointed out that the Ibadan project was still under procurement and yet to be fully concessioned as what obtained at the moment was the preferred bidders. Also, the deputy director explained that the procurement process was very wrong and protracted, adding that it was an unsolicited proposal that needs to be matched with other interested parties, which presently still stands as preferred bidders. He noted that the Ibadan project was under negotiation and would very soon have a concessionaire, with approval for operation to commence, while he said that the Funtua project has gone far. Zubairu stressed that the Funtua project had gone far with an appreciable level of deployment being attained, particularly on infrastructure. He noted that various aspects of the project, parameter fencing and gate had attained different levels of completion. Also, the deputy director said that insurgency had affected the commencement of the project in the Maiduguri area, while noting that the land issue had remained the most critical aspect affecting the project in Abia.

Intervention

However, the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, had said that his administration would deploy available resources at its disposal to complete the dry port as the project is very vital to the state’s economic development, noting that many containers belonging to businessmen from the state were trapped at the Apapa port due to the non completion of the Isiala Ngwa Inland Dry Port. He said the priority being accorded the dry port was the fulfillment of his promise to ease the stress of the state’s business community, especially those involved in the import and export. Ikpeazu, who disclosed this during the inauguration of the Amaorji Expressway Junction- Abayi-Isi Court Road in Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area, explained that his administration started following up on the port project in order to ensure its completion to enhance business in the South-East.

Last line

The state governments concerned should facilitate smooth take off of the inland ports in their domain to boost their economies.

 

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