Shippers Council laments over delay in efforts to attract investors to Nigeria’s Inland Dry Ports

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Despite the slow pace of work in most of Nigeria’s Inland Dry Ports (IDPs) also known as Inland Container Depots (ICDs) in the six geo-political zones of the country due to paucity of funds, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has called for better funding of the projects.

This is apart from its ongoing efforts to assist the concessionaires to attract investors and other critical funds to the affected ports. Our sources gathered that NSC Council is worried that besides the Kaduna IDP which has taken off since January last year, the other projects were yet to be completed by the concessionaires because of lack of finance. To ensure that the concessionaires complete their projects without further delay, the council has approached the Commonwealth Enterprise Investment Council (CWEIC) in its search for investors for the IDP projects.

It was also learnt that the NSC executive secretary, Mr. Hassan Bello, has already visited the London office of the Commonwealth agency which was established in 2014 with the mandate from Commonwealth Heads of Government to promote intra-Commonwealth trade and investments among its 53-member countries. CWEIC is responsible for organising the Commonwealth Business Forum alongside the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting on alternative years.

Bello also recently led the management team of the NSC to attend the Advisory Council Meeting of CWEIC in Lagos where a lot of business opportunities across and beyond Nigerian were laid bare. Specifically, the NSC wants to attract investors from Commonwealth countries to the IDPs so that the remaining projects being handled by the concessionaires can be completed as soon as possible. Apart from the IDP projects, the council is also interested in getting investors for other transport sector infrastructure projects such as the Truck Transit Parks (TTPs) and Border Information Centres (BICs).

Both the IDP and TTP projects are considered as having multiplier effects on the national economy with thousands of jobs to be created when completed. The NSC sees the dry port projects as imperative to trade facilitation as it will enable shippers in the hinterland to import and export without having to travel to Lagos seaports or other seaports for the process. For instance, with the Kaduna IDP, importers in any part of the world who wish to use that dry port can do so by indicating it as port of destination for their goods instead of using Lagos seaport. Similarly, businessmen from that zone who have goods to export can use the dry port without having to go through the Lagos seaport.

The current scenario is that apart from the Kaduna IDP, other dry port projects located in Kano, Jos in Plateau State, Isiala Ngwa, Abia State, Maiduguri in Borno State, Kaduna and Ibadan in Oyo State have been delayed due to poor funding. The concessionaires are Duncan Maritime Ltd – Jos; Eastgate Inland Container Terminal Ltd – Isiala Ngwa -Abia; Dala Inland Dry Port – Kano; Migfor Nigeria Ltd – Maiduguri; Catamaran Logistics Ltd – Ibadan; Equatorial Marine Ltd – Funtua.

There are also IDPs in Olorisa Oko, Ibadan and Benin, Edo State. Two years ago, the shippers council expressed concerns over the delay on the construction works and ordered the concessionaires to quicken work on the sites or lose their licences. Bello had warned that “if for any reason, we see some unwillingness to execute this project the government will not hesitate to terminate this concession. The government has an obligation to bring out consistent policies that will encourage the private sector to perform.

The concessionaires too have an obligation. Government is an enabler and will do everything possible to ensure that these projects come on stream but we also need to see some level of work to show some seriousness on the side of the concessionaires. “The private sector must show some responsibility because now we have in that agreement new time lines and we have to act according to the time lines.

Anywhere you want us to intervene for you to grow don’t hesitate to tell us but I am telling you now that we also want to see action and if we don’t see action according to the agreement, we will not hesitate to cancel any concession,” Bello had warned. However, a source told LEADERSHIP that though the NSC had taken a hard position to ensure that the concessionaires complete their projects, it is committed to lending a helping hand in whatever capacity to accelerate investments in the IDPs and TTPS for the concessionaires to succeed.

The source said that the ultimate goal of the council is to see that the projects come to fruition as soon as possible, considering their benefits to the national economy and the states where they are sited. As a member of the CWEIC, the source said that the council wants to use its contacts to link the concessionaires to possible investors in either the IDP or TTP projects.

Bello had late last year assured the concessionaires about the rail connection to the dry ports and seaports to ensure smooth trade facilitation. Bello had said that the federal government through the Transport Ministry was working hard to ensure rail connection to the dry ports, adding that lack of adequate rail infrastructure will affect the dry ports negatively.

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