By Godwin Oritse
THERE are indications that the city of Ibadan, Oyo State, would be hosting two Inland Container Depots, ICDs, as two maritime big players (Maersk and Catamaran) square up over cargo traffic in the South West link. The territory is known to host huge traffic, not just for South West, but also the North, and particularly the North Central economic region of the country.
Maersk, the world’s leader in shipping, has just begun development of a new ICD in the city with the active support of the Oyo State government and the shipping industry regulatory authority, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC.
Strong industry and political leaders
But Vanguard Maritime Report learnt that Catamaran Group has begun to step up action on revamping its over 10-year old ICD project also in the city.
Vanguard Maritime Report also learnt that Catamaran Group has behind them some strong industry and political leaders including a former chief executive of NSC and also a former governor of Oyo State who has a huge interest in Nigerian maritime industry.
Moreover, NSC is said to be also favourably disposed towards having the two projects in the city for the purpose of the competition, but some industry observers are of the opinion that it would be an unnecessary duplication of efforts spurred by political strife.
Already plans for a new concession agreement for Catamaran ICD is underway while at the same time similar authorisation is being worked out for the sole bidder in the new Ibadan ICD.
Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report on the sideline of the reception held in honour of the former Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, in Lagos, Managing Director of Catamaran Group, Mr Lai Are said that the revamping of its ICD project was delayed because of some institutional issues that needed to be resolved.
According to him the institutional issues which include Customs operations in the facility are currently being looked into by the NSC adding that the moment these issues were taken care of, a new concession agreement between Catamaran and the government will be signed.
He stated: “The project has not been cancelled as is being speculated. We had institutional issues that we are currently resolving to pave way for a new agreement that will be signed soon.”
Confirming the development, the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, told Vanguard Maritime Report that the Justice Ministry is studying the proposed agreement with Catamaran Group adding that the moment that was concluded, a new concession agreement will be signed.
He also said that the fact that the concession was never cancelled, adding: “The concession was never cancelled, we had issues with the concession no doubt, but we are looking into these issues. The Ministry of Justice is also looking into a new draft of the agreement and we hope that at the end, we will have a working document that will spell out responsibilities of the parties involved.”
Only last month the NSC indicated that one bid scaled through the bidding session for a new Ibadan Inland Container Depot, ICD, as at the date of closure of bids.
Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report on this, Bello had said that another bid came in after the submission of bids had closed adding that the late bid could not be entertained.
He, however, put a caveat, saying, “the fact that there is only one bidder for the Ibadan ICD project does not mean that the company has won the bid.”
Recall that while briefing the former minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and representatives of the Oyo State government, during a visit to the site of the new ICD project, Bello had said the proposed dry port would be constructed based on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Also, Bello had in 2018, during a courtesy call on the former Governor of Oyo State, Mr Abiola Ajimobi, said that the 20,000 tonnes capacity of the new Ibadan dry port would be developed in three phases at a total cost of $134 million.
The NSC boss said that apart from other benefits, the project was expected to create 3,000 direct jobs on completion.
Bello, accompanied by representatives of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, and representatives of CRCC China-Africa Construction Limited, had presented an Outline Business Case Compliance Certificate, OBC, of the project.
He had stated that the project would be constructed at Olorisa-Oko, the terminal end of the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway line, saying this would open up Oyo and adjoining states for export.
According to him, the need to develop a port in the hinterland is more demanding now than in 2007 when the Federal Executive Council approved the concession of six Inland Container Depots across the country.