By Shola Fadeyi
Comrade Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary/ CEO, Nigerian Shippers’ Council
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council has concluded arrangements to integrate the establishment of Dry Ports into Nigeria’s Transport Master Plan , as part of measures to accelerate the development of the facilities in the strategic locations in the country.
It was gathered that the Minister of State for Transportation,who also oversees the activities of the Maritime Sector, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, on behalf of the Federal Government, gave the Shippers’ Council the mandate to undertake the task .
The development was said to have been, sequel to the high level of capacity, the Council has displayed so far ,as a facilitator of the project , and the technical support it has rendered, in conjunction with the Infrastructural Council Regulatory Commission (ICRC) in the development of the project in the country.
Marine and economy learnt that the integration of the dry ports in the Transport Master plan would enable the project to be a continuum and make subsequent administrations in the country , to be committed to the completion of their construction.
It was gathered that the innovative way the Council’s Executive Secretary/ CEO, Comrade Hassan Bello and his team , have coordinated the activities, relating to the existence of the Dry Ports , and the need to ensure that the facilities become feasible in the proposed locations , has made government to demand that they be included in the transport master plan.
The establishment of the Dry Ports has been on a Public Private Participation (PPP) basis, with the Shippers’ Council and the ICRC representing the Federal Government in the transactions, while the State Governments , where they are being located, are also playing the role of providing lands among other logistic support for the project.
The Dry Ports are to be cited in Ibadan, Oyo State, Kaduna, Kaduna State, Zawachiki, Kano, Jos , Plateau State, Isiala-gwa, Abia State, Zamfarawa, Funtua and Jauri, Maiduguri among other places.
The Council has ensured that the one in Kaduna commenced operations since January last year , as containers are already being transferred there by rail from the Lagos Seaports, even as the Shippers’ Council has concluded arrangements with the Nigerian Railway Corporation(NRC) to increase the number of wagons for the carriage of goods to the dry port ,sequel to demand for the patronage of the facility .
Marine and economy understood that trains have been moving every week from Lagos to Kaduna with containers of goods including exports, from Kaduna back to Lagos. The regulatory agencies, namely, Customs NAFDAC, NLDLEA, SON and others have since then moved into the ICD , even as the Council is still striving to get pre- inspection or destination status for the Dry Port.
It has also resolved to ensure that the Kano Dry Port begins operations this year, a development said to have already made the Council’s CEO , to commence full discussions with the Kano State Deputy Governor, on ironing out of issues, relating to the dry Port, so that it can start working like the one in Kaduna, even as the Jos ICD has reached over 80 per cent completion rate.
This is even as the Council has ensured that an agreement for the construction of a fresh dry Port in Ibadan that will cost $500 million is signed this month , while the ICD is to be ready in 18 months with capacity to employ thousands of Nigerians just like others.This is apart from the one that is being promoted in Erunmu in the same Ibadan, by Catamaran Nigeria Limited .
The Council has been assisting in the development of the Dry Ports because of the need to check congestion at the Lagos Seaports,make them more user friendly, tame gridlock on the Ports Access Roads , develop the nation’s transport infrastructure as well as bring Ports services close to the hinterlands. while the ICDs for other locations in the country have been in various stages of completion.