We must link ICDs to rail line to avoid mistake of seaports – Shippers’ Council

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Hassan Bello

In setting up Inland Dry Port, popularly known as Inland Container Depots (ICDs) across the six geopolitical zones in the country, Nigeria must avoid the mistakes of non-linking of the nation’s seaports to the rail line, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), has said.

Hassan Bello, executive secretary, NSC who gave this warning in Abuja on Thursday during a 2-day workshop for validation of draft operational manual for Inland Dry Ports in Nigeria, said that it is also important to build good access roads to the dry ports.

Inland Dry Port project was conceived as part of the Federal Government’s reform programme in the transport sector to decongest the seaports and bring shipping services closer to importers and exporters in the hinterland.

According to Bello, the dry port must be of international standard by ensuring that the dry ports are not manually driven to enable it to serve the purpose of establishing it.

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Recall that the Federal Executive Council approved the establishment of Inland Dry Ports in March 2006 at six locations across the country namely, Isiala-Ngwa in Abia State, Erunmu Ibadan in Oyo State, Heipang Jos in Plateau. Others are Kano state, Funtua in Katsina State and Maiduguri in Borno State.

It is to be developed on Public-Private Partnership using the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model.

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Bello pointed out that Messer CPCS Transcom Nigeria Ltd. was also engaged by the council to draft an Operational Manual to guide the implementation and operation of the IDPs in line with international best practice.

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He added that the operational Manual would provide detailed processes, a general outlook and those that are involved in the operation of a dry port.

Dauda Suleiman, director, Maritime Services, Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT), said the project would greatly provide stimulus to the economy of the States and the country at large.

“Dry Ports are part of the solution to alleviate the problems of shippers’ inadequate access to the seaports and to remove frequent congestion, which results in the loss of cargo on transit, carnage and accident on our roads. It is pertinent to state that for these projects to succeed there must be support and collaboration with the stakeholders,” he said.

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He said that the Ministry and Shippers’ Council is already collaborating with Nigerian Railway Corporation, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Customs Service and other stakeholders to ensure its implementation.

Suleiman urged the participants to take full advantage of the workshop to address all grey areas in the draft operational manual and to come up with a workable policy that would drive the operations of the Inland dry ports.

Chijioke Okonkwo, CPCS Transcom Nigeria Ltd, said the dry ports would be most efficient if they are connected to the rail line.

“Developing the inland dry port will increase the performance of the transport sector and overall competitiveness of the Nigerian economy,” he said.

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