By Bashir Bello
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has declared Dala Inland Dry Port, Kano as port of origin for export of goods and final destination for products brought into the country through her seaports.
Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, while making the declaration in Kano disclosed that the epoch making event was granted approval by the Federal Executive Council as part of government’s reform program to promote efficient transportation, decongest the seaports and bring shipping and ports services closer to importers and exporters.
“In today’s new global economy, speed to the markets with finished goods, lower shipping costs are the main drivers more than ever before”, he said.
On why the project was located in Kano, Sambo said: “The importance of Kano state as the commercial capital of northern Nigeria with huge agricultural trade and export volume is well documented.
“The state has a sizeable number of textile and agro-allied industries, assembly plants amongst others and several manufacturing industries. It is not only suited but most qualified”, he added.
He called on shipping companies, maritime players, land-locked countries like Chad, Niger and other port users to take full advantage of the Dala IDP for import and export of their cargoes.
Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, represented by his Deputy, Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gowuna, noted that the Dala port marks the process of harnessing the potentials that abound in the state as Kano remains the largest non-oil and gas economy in the country with a Gross Domestic Product of USD $12 billion driven largely by commerce, manufacturing and subsistence agriculture.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Chairman, Inter-Ministerial Standing Committee, Nigeria-Niger Joint Commission, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, said: “I am glad that the declaration of Dala Inland Dry Port as a port of origin and final destination coincides with the facility tour of the Inter-Ministerial Standing Committee of Nigeria-Niger Joint Commission for Cooperation and Niger Economic Operators. The facility is part of the bilateral obligations between Nigeria and Niger targeted at assessing Nigeria’s preparedness for the transit of Nigerien cargoes”.
Speaking further, Ajani said that with this declaration, Dala port becomes the closest port to Niger Republic, noting that Nigeria stands to benefit from the increased patronage of her corridor by land-locked countries.
On his part, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Emmanuel Jime, disclosed that the Dala port was developed through a Public Private Partnership, using the Build, Operate and Transfer policy. He informed that the project amongst numerous other benefits will give impetus to revive and modernize the railway as a primary mode of long distance haulage, reduce cost of transporting cargo to hinterland, give Nigeria a competitive edge with ratification of Nigeria into the African Continental Free Trade Agreement accord in addition to the numerous jobs opportunities it will generate.
Jime assured that the Council will ensure that not just Dala port but others will be fully compliant with the provisions of the Operational Manual for Inland Dry Port by having transit facilities and operating round the clock.
On his part, Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria, said: “The Board of NRC has approved track access to any body or company wishing to provide the infrastructure, that is the rolling stock to operate on the track which I hope Dala Inland Dry Port will tap in so that they can maximize the essence of having rail track into their premises”.
In his presentation, the Chairman, Dala Port, Abubakar Bawuro, informed that Niger, Chad and Cameroun have indicated the desire to use the facility, noting that the Dala IDP will further boost the trans-Saharan trade for which Kano was once a hub.
In addition, the Chairman disclosed that the narrow gauge from Lagos-Kano is fully connected to the facility and neighbouring countries importing through the sea ports can complete the second leg from Kano to Niger or other parts via road.
Singled out for commendations were the former Minister of Transportation, Kema Chikwe, under whose stewardship, approvals for the IDPs were granted, the erstwhile Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, for persevering on the Inter-Ministerial Standing Committee of Nigeria-Niger Joint Commission to fast-track delivery date of the Dala IDP and the former Executive Secretary, NSC, Hassan Bello, who it was disclosed has been providing the Dala group, professional technical advice at no cost.