By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
Hopes for decongestion at the nation’s sea ports appear brightened as two Inland Container Ports (ICDs) are set to commence operations before May this year.
The ICDs are designated as destination ports from origin meaning that the cargoes are taken out of the sea ports without clearing protocols which are executed at the ICD destination.
Disclosing this yesterday, the Acting Director-General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr. Michael Ohiani, said the decision for the two depots to urgently commence operations was reached at a meeting of ICRC, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the ICD concessionaires.
The two depots are Dala Inland Dry Port, Kano with a capacity for 20, 000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEUs), and Funtua Dry Port, kastina State with 10, 000 TEUs capacity.
The meeting, which was at the instance of ICRC sought to find solutions to the factors hindering the completion of the dry ports whose contracts were signed since 2006.
Ohiani noted that 16 years after the concession contracts were signed, some of the ICDs were still at five percent completion while only two had made appreciable progress.
A statement by the Acting Head, Media and Publicity, Manji Yarling, quoted Ohiani as saying, “We want to rub minds and come up with how we can make progress – what are the challenges taking into consideration that the projects have already gotten the President’s attention and more so, we need to decongest our seaports”.
The concessionaires blamed the delay on the hitches in provision of land by state governments; lack of narrow gauge rail lines in and out of the dry ports which they noted was important to make the operation of the ports efficient; as well as, difficulties in accessing funds from banks.
In view of the delay in execution, the concessionaires stressed the need for a new agreement, pointing out that an agreement started in 2017 between them and NSC but it was yet to be cleared by the Federal Ministry of Justice on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Transportation. Usman Abbas, Managing Director of Equatorial Marine Oil and Gas Ltd informed the ICRC team that the Funtua port was already at over 85 per cent completion and was ready to launch before the end of the second quarter of 2022.
Ahmed Rabiu, MD of the Dala Inland Dry Port Ltd., concessionaires of the Kano Inland Port also hinted that the construction of the container depot was already nearing completion. He assured that the company was working assiduously to ensure project completion and take off before the end of March 2022.