The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello has advised the seaport terminal operators not to see themselves as being in competition with the operator of the Kaduna Dry Port but rather to see the activities of the dry port operator as complementary to their operations at the nation’s seaport.
Bello who gave this advice in his opening address at the Stakeholders’ Meeting on the operation of the Kaduna Dry Port held in Lagos on Thursday observed that both the shipping companies and terminal operators were critical to the survival and smooth operation of the Kaduna Dry port.
He added that the federal government was very serious and anxious about the successful implementation of the project hence the reason for the meeting which among other things was to seek for stakeholders’ suggestion and cooperation on how best to go about it.
According to him, “It is a pioneering phase and as with things that are new, there are always some teething problems but I am sure if we work harder, we will provide that synergy that we have. The Nigerian Shippers’ Council is not doing this alone, ten years back, there has been an implementation committee made up virtually everybody who is here including the customs, the Nigeria Railway Corporation, the truckers, the freight forwarders, even more gladdening is the shipping companies and the terminal operators who are very critical to the success of this project.
“Now, the idea is not to only establish an inland port but to establish a modern inland port and that inland port must learn from the challenges of the seaports and try to as much as possible right from the onset to avoid or mitigate those challenges. One of them is traffic management; we all have seen where we have been with traffic management because of one mode of transportation linking the port, we lack a proper automated traffic management. The ease of doing business which we must institute at the port right from the beginning, clearing agents will now be given a timeline. It is important that we all come and support the government and support this project but it is also a business venture that depends however on what the operators at the port are able to do.
“The shipping companies as I said are extremely critical, the terminal operators, they are very critical, we must not have to see that there is competition between the seaport terminals and the dry port, they are complementary not competitors”.
On his part, the Managing Director, of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Engr. Fidet Okhiria extolled the long cordial relationship that had existed between the corporation and the Kaduna Inland Container Terminal before it transformed to Kaduna Inland Dry Port even as he said that the corporation had been working to improve on its container delivery to the terminal before the transformation.
The MD however posited the expected improvement on the part of the NRC was not going to be an overnight issue but assuring that with the present support they were getting from government, it was achievable.
“We will rededicate ourselves; we will try and not fail Nigerians. I will say that within 36 hours, we will get the containers to the dry port. I came here with my Director of Operation so that he will hear the views of others and see how we will able to maximize the few rolling stocks that we have and it may interest you to know that this year, we are bringing in about 20 container wagons and it is going to be better than what we have. And we are also trying to bring the locomotive that is stranded at Maiduguri, it was barely used for two weeks before the problem of insecurity started, we are making effort to bring it so that we deploy it to the fleet. So, we start with that and then see how it goes.
He therefore advised the operators of the dry port not to keep their wagons for so long but to load them once they come so that they enjoy the benefit of what they are paying to the corporation.
Also speaking, a representative of the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), DC Musa Munir expressed happiness with the project saying that with the commencement of operation in the inland dry port, it will help the Nigeria Customs Service as a government agency to realize its major objective in not only collection of duty but also in facilitation of trade.
“We know what the Nigeria Customs service is going through with all other stakeholders with the ports in Lagos and we know how the dry ports will be of great assistance. As an officer, I served in Kano command and I know the importance of dry port, I know what the inland container terminal in Kano is doing for the service. So, with the commencement of this one in Kaduna, I think the Nigeria Customs Service will be better for it”, he said.
For the General Manager, Marine and Operation of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Captain Iheanacho Ebubeogu the Kaduna Dry Port needed to have a container maintenance bay as according to him, “containers are not cargo, they are logistics equipment to consolidate cargo and move them”.
He continued,” Please, make provisions where containers will be maintained because impact integrity of containers is always asserted before you can now load them. You will ask the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, they will tell you, in all logistics, we talk of clean bill of lading and if you use the wrong container to carry something that is leaking or doing something that will not aid the cargo to arrive as you carried it, there will be dispute and in this whole exercise, we will not encourage dispute but we encourage efficiency and cost saving mechanism”.
Responding, the Chairman of Kaduna Dry Port, Mr. Tope Borishade re-echoed the position if the Executive Secretary of the NSC that the Dry Port was not in competition with the seaport terminal but rather was there to complement them adding that what had been driving the ICNL from the beginning to develop the port was the fact that they knew that the federal government was committed to it as Nigeria’s economy depended on it.
He further said that the ease of doing business in Nigeria will improve drastically if they could have a successful dry port and other dry ports in Nigeria could come up even as he contended that there were so many benefits therein.
“We are already losing freight traffic to other neighbouring countries that we should make sure we do everything we can to take Nigeria to a place where it could be in better position to do this kind of business”, he concluded.
Photo: (L-R): The Chairman, Kaduna Dry Port, Mr. Tope Borishade, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello, the Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation, Engr. Fidet Okhiria and representative of Comptroller-General of Customs, DC Musa Munir at the Stakeholders’ Meeting on operation of Kaduna Dry Port in Lagos Thursday.
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