ICRC Says No Deepsea Ports Until 2024       

• Raises Hope On Completion Of New Dry Ports Along Standard Gauge Lines  

The Infrastructural Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has disclosed that although they are desirable, there is no possibility of any deepsea port coming on stream in Nigeria in the shortest time.

No fewer than three of such ports  are at different stages of  actualisation, while others are at different stages of  negotiations.

The Director General of ICRC, Engr Chidi Izuwah who said this last week in a chat with Shipping Position Daily, however reiterated that the government is committed to making the already concessioned dry ports in the country to become a reality, even as he affirmed that the dry ports are at no cost to the Federal Government.

He said that the dry ports were concessioned to the private sector; therefore there is no expenditure to be borne by the government.

Speaking further, he said that new deep seaports will not be ready in the next five years, adding that the fastest way to expand port capacity therefore to have dry ports.

“Our seaports are over capacitated, the new deepwater ports will not be ready in four to five years, the fastest way to expand port capacity is to have dry ports linked by rail. We cannot leave our maritime economy the way it is”, he stated.

all the ongoing dry ports projects, including the one in Ibadan and the new strategic dry ports along the new standard gauge lines would be established based on Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis. 

Izuwah explained that operating the dry ports on PPP basis will also increase the use of rail lines even as he added that there are serious efforts to breathe life into the three dry ports in Dala, Funtua and Isiala Ngwa..

He however said that when the agency visited Dala dry port located in Kano state recently, the concessionaires were happy that the project which was flagged-off in 2007 has finally started working.

According to him, “the PPP dry ports will increase use of the rail lines, create opportunities for PPP rolling stock towards earning revenue that will help us pay down the cost of funding the standard Guage rail lines. The existing dry ports where efforts are being made to bring to life are:  Dala Funtua Isiala Ngwa; all by the private sector”

“A good example is the Enyimba Economic City in Abia, without a dry port it cannot function as an industrial city supporting manufacturing. The private sector-driven Enyimba economic city wants  to establish a dry port to unleash the economic potentials of the city. The stakeholders want the government to stop the private sector doing that and create jobs”

He added that ports, when well-planned will drive economic activities even as he charged the federal government on infrastructure in other to create more jobs.

“Ports when well planned, drive economic activities; the State of Gujarat in India has 41 ports. Our country needs infrastructure to create jobs, our youth unemployment is a time bomb. Our population growth rate outstrips our economic growth rate - another time bomb”, he observed.

On the strategies that can be put in place for these existing dry ports to work, Izuwah advised on the need to  adhere to the original concession agreement.

Explaining further, he said: “Compliance with terms of original concession agreements, declaration as point of origin and destination,  so that bill of lading can carry the dry ports. Link the ports to ports by rail and allow bonded movement of containers etc by alternative transport rail barges out of ports to dry ports”

“In many parts of Asia, ports do only marine operations and containers are moved to dry ports, you clear your stuff at the dry port. No congestion or reason to go to sea port. Industries and manufacturing quickly develop around the dry ports creating massive jobs” he concluded.