Immediate past managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Adebayo Sarumi, has faulted the recent transfer of 2,000 containers to Onne ports in Rivers state on the orders of the federal ministry of transport, saying that the action was a waste of time and revenue.
Chief Sarumi who stated this in Ibadan , Oyo state last week at a seminar on “Inland Container Depots (ICD’s) as Catalyst for trade facilitation”, explained that such containers could have been easily moved to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Ibadan.
The seminar was put together by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN).
The NPA was directed by the ministry to transfer the containers to the Rivers state port at the peak of the recent port congestion and amidst condemnation by stakeholders.
Sarumi, who was also a one time Managing Director of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and Chairman of at the seminar, pointed out that it is disappointing that the ICD projects are yet to take off, despite their important role in the import/export trade in the country.
The former NPA boss also, disagreed with the view held by some operators that the ICD project could not commence without the railway in place.
He noted that in situations where there is evidence that an ICD could operate without the railway, like that situated in Erunmu (Oyo State) and Isiala Ngwa (Abia State) because of their nearness to port states, government should encourage the two concessionaires and port users to commence operations.
He said that congestion recently witnessed at the port could have been avoided with proper use of the ICD projects, instead of concentration on the off-dock facilities in Lagos. Sarumi explained that the encouragement of these off-dock facilities has resulted in the movement of the pressure in the ports to the area where the off-dock facilities are located.
In his paper titled “Overview of ICD projects in Nigeria,” Dr. Alex Okwuashi, Registrar of the Certified Institute of Shipping, said government intention of establishment of the project was to de-congest and make consignments easily and readily accessible to importers and exporters across the country.
Okwuashi called on all the states in the geographical location of each ICD project to come together to make these projects work. He regretted the fact that the project has still not kicked off.
He charged all stakeholders involved in the actualisation of the project to put heads together to ensure it success.