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More controversy trails Kaduna Dry Port

…as Shippers’ Council, ICRC intervene

By Eguono Odjegba

The Federal Government may have intervened to address the hitches against optimal use of the Kaduna Inland Container Depot, KICD, and also in all other ICDs nationwide.

This comes with a rebuttal of the claims by a director of the Inland Containers Nigeria Limited, operators of the KICD, Hon. Tony Nwabunike, recently, that Northern state governments and business tycoons are not patronizing the regional dry port.

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Nwabunike who is also the National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ALNCA, also alleged that there seems to be a conspiracy by foreign shipping companies to sabotage the KICD.

But Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, has come out to say that it is currently working with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, on a new operational framework for the Inland Dry Ports, IDPs, spread across the six geo-political zones of the country.

It also said that Northern governments are patronizing the KICD adding that the facility is operating at optimum capacity.

NSC boss, Hassan Bello, said that part of the encumbrances were associated with the land transactions and other documentations which he believes are fraught with challenges since the ICRC was not in existence at the takeoff of the IDPs.

Bello said the Council is working with the ICRC on a fresh guideline which would give rise to the signing of a new set of agreements to make for a more progressive regime that would eliminate whatever encumbrances there may be in the system.

Under the new set of agreements already in the works, Vanguard Maritime Report learnt the Council may issue deadlines to IDP concessionaires to forestall any form of hurdle that may further delay takeoff of full operation in the dry ports.

He said, “You know that only the Kaduna dry port is working. It is primarily because the private sector operators, who won the concession bid have been having issues associated with the land documentations, some of them do not have the financial capability to go on with the project.

“Also remember that they are the ‘guinea pigs’ of Public Private Partnership, PPP, arrangement in the country even before the creation of the ICRC.

‘‘But we have steered all these encumbrances for a more progressive regime, which necessitated the signing of the new set of agreements”, Bello said.

While challenging other state governments on the need to support the ICDs located in their states, he argued that the dry port in Kaduna is functioning optimally because of the massive support it is getting from the state government, which he said removed every possible encumbrance the concessionaire would have faced.

The Kaduna Dry Port was commissioned by President Muhammad Buhari in January 2018 to bring maritime activities closer to the northern part of the country.

Nwabunike had told reporters in Lagos that importers the KICD is meant to serve in the northern area have not been using it as their port of destination to attract cargo traffic. He also blamed shipping companies for not giving importers the bill of laden that will cause cargoes to be taken to Kaduna as port of destination.

He also blamed shipping companies for not giving importers the bill of laden that will cause cargoes to be taken to Kaduna as port of destination.

He had stated: “Nineteen northern states of Nigeria are actually importing. The importers there are not using Kaduna Dry Port. There is need to reconsider this. Private sector and government operators in import and export should take advantage of the dry port.

“Kaduna dry port is still in the state of trial because I will tell you the traffic is not high just for one reason. Nigeria is not doing enough export so we have not gotten enough patronage on export. Then on imports, we were supposed to be having patronage but shipping companies are not giving the importers the true bill laden to Kaduna dry ports.

”They say that 1 by 20ft container coming from China can be said to cost $3,600 on freight charges but they don’t know how much they can charge from Lagos to Kaduna on land. That’s a problem, you know when you now have a document like the bill of laden the onus is on the shipping line to ensure the consignment gets to that final destination.

“What they are doing is that they are sabotaging the Kaduna dry port by saying that the transporters are not giving them static amount of money for transporting the goods to Kaduna therefore making it very difficult for them to charge the importer. They are supposed to charge the importer from the source. If you look at it critically it is a good argument but what stops them to reach agreement with a logistic company.

“The roads are not good and trucks are not good. Sometimes the train we use is carrying only 20 containers to Kaduna. So when you look at their case, you find out that they are actually saying the truth but if for example this Kaduna dry port is owned by a foreign shipping company, do you know that those containers will be going there? That will now tell you that it is sabotage. Don’t forget that in Kano, Maerskline have a bonded terminal and they will not charge you until you get your consignment to Kano.’’

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