The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has urged the nation to avoid the mistakes of non-linkage of the nation’s seaports to rail and bad access roads while setting up Inland Dry Ports across the country.
Executive Secretary of the Council; Mr Hassan Bello, gave the advice at a two-day workshop for validation of the draft operational manual for Inland Dry Ports in Nigeria.
He said that the dry ports must be of international standard, pointing out that if they are slow and manually driven, they would not serve the purpose of establishing them.
He said: “The Inland Dry Port project was conceived as part of Federal Government’s reform programme in the transport sector to decongest the seaports and bring shipping and port services closer to importers and exporters in the hinterland.
“Consequently, the Federal Executive Council granted approval for 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; Kano- Kano State; Funtua in Katsina State; and Maiduguri in Borno State.
” Also, the project is to be developed on Public Private Partnership using the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model,” he said.
Bello said that Messers CPCS Transcom Nigeria Ltd. was engaged by the Council to draft an Operational Manual to guide the implementation and operation of the inland dry ports in line with international best practice.
On his part, Director of Maritime Services, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Mr Dauda Suleiman, said that the project would provide stimulus to the economy of the state and country at large.
“The Dry Ports are part of the solution to alleviate the problems of hinterland, shippers’ inadequate access to the seaports and to remove frequent congestion, which result in the loss of cargo in 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.
“I am happy to observe that the ministry and Shippers’ Council are already collaborating with Nigerian Railway Corporation, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Customs Service and other stakeholders to ensure its implementation,” he said.
Suleiman urged the participants to take full advantage of the workshop to address all grey areas in the draft operational manual.
He urged them to come up with a workable policy that would drive the operations of the inland dry ports.
Mr Chijioke Okonkwo, from CPCS Transcom Nigeria Ltd., while giving an overview of the draft, said that the dry ports would be most efficient if 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 and bring shipping and port services closer to importers and exporters in the hinterland,” he said.
The stakeholders who attended the workshop recommended a review of the manual every three years.