By Uche Usim
WHEN the Federal Government recently approved and gazetted the Kaduna Inland Container Depot (ICD) as port of origin and port of destination, it simply means the state has become the first full-fledged dry port in the country.
This move threw stakeholders into the wild jubilation because when the port eventually takes off, it is expected to decongest the Lagos ports as containers meant for the northern part of the country would immediately be transferred on arrival by road or rail to the ICD where all import formalities like Customs duty payment, inspection and other documentations will be done.
The company that won the first ever ICD project is Inland Container Nigeria Limited (ICNL) and it says the project will kick off before the end of the year.
In this exclusive interview, the Managing Director of ICNL, Yusuf Ismail, said the project was a dream come true, stressing it will create massive employment for Nigerians when fully operational.
He also said the dry port would catalyse the economic rejuvenation of the northern part of the country by attracting other ancillary services like banking, ICT and hotels among others which a host of companies will provide.
He speaks about the project, the company and the journey so far.
We will operate as a port and you know a port is always designated and operated as port of origin and a port of destination. Unlike in the past when we operated a bonded terminal, now it is a dry port. It will have all the paraphernalia of a typical port, just that there will be no water or sea. We are going, to operate a true bill of lading right from the port of origin. That means, whoever is bringing his cargo into Nigeria, the Lagos port will now be a transit point. When the vessel discharges the cargoes, those containerized items and containers that are destined for the north will now be moved either by rail or by road to the inland container depot or dry port where the agents, consignees and other stakeholders will now do their necessary work before the cargo is released to the owners. It will have the Customs, freight forwarders, NAFDAC, SON, Police, other relevant agencies, banks, ICT service providers, food vendors etc. Just name it, all those you see the seaports who have businesses with cargoes will also be there. It is jus a dry port.
When the port starts full operations, there will be a relief in documentation through the Customs and security agencies. Those documentations will no longer be there. It will now be the duty of the shipping companies that will move those containers to our port. And we will wait for the containers to arrive as an operator. Definitely, we are relived of those tedious documentations we normally carry out in Lagos.
It’s been a long journey. If I can remember, we attempted it in 2003. Then, there was a bid we did that time that was submitted to the federal government. There was a committee set up then. Then, they reviewed it and we were knocked out. We were planning for Kano that time but eventually it was given to another company. This second batch commenced 2010 when Kaduna State government felt that they also needed a dry port in Kaduna city to serve those manufacturing companies there. I think they discovered that it was going to involve a huge amount of money and you know, with the government policy that government has no business in business but they can partner with the private investors, it was then discovered that a bonded terminal is already in existence in Kaduna and so why don’t they then partner with the operator of the bonded terminal so that they can both synergize and upgrade the place and bequeath it with a port status. So, this journey commenced with the Kaduna State government in 2010. The then Governor of Kaduna State, Namadi Sambo met with his representatives and we drew a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed and pursued it until we got it. And this dry port is going to be operated as a joint venture with Kaduna State government because they will have a share in it.
We are planning to take off before the year runs out. We are putting some things in place and we are also discussing with the shipping companies, the Customs and other stakeholders. We are even looking at getting foreign technical partners that will boost the cargo throughput for the port.
The challenge we may likely face when it takes off is that some of these foreign shipping companies may not be willing to come to the north because of the hazards of our roads and the problems of transporting containers from the seaports to the dry ports because of the distance. Worse still, the capacity of the Nigeria Railway Corporation to handle such volume of cargo may not be there when we takeoff. They will prefer Lagos and that is why I said earlier that we are discussing with them. So, that challenge of logistics may be there and with time, it may go. But it is going to be a teething problem for us that are starting it because we’re going to be the first to operate. Those that have been gazetted seven years ago are not yet operating. So, definitely, we are going to be the first one to launch the dry port project in Nigeria. So, we are going to be the ones to face the teething problem associated with it. So, others coming behind will learn from whatever mistake we may make and correct them accordingly.
When you look at the seaport, definitely you know those people working there. The clearing agents are there and they will equally be in our port too. We have have stevedoring work as well. Banks will have cash points there. Gthe shipping companies will have their representatives there fore release of cargo. Truck and trailers, drivers etc will all be there. This is massive job creation. Food vendors, business centres, ICT, security, professionals that will be working for our company and others as well. We can say it will generate a lot of direct and indirect hobs for Nigerians.
About Inland containers limited
If you look at the hinterland, we are the only ones doing this business. Luckily, those gazetted dry ports now, we are still the first to operate it. So, we are always first.
ICNL is the operator of Kaduna Inland dry port (first of it kind) in Nigeria equipped with wealth of experience in shipping, port/ bonded terminal operations, international/local logistics and freight/forwarding services. Inland Containers Nigeria Limited is a fully indigenous organization incorporated in February, 1980 to provide port services to the hinterland shipping communities in the country. The Company was born out of necessity and packaged as a veritable intervention facilitator to assist the rapid industrialization and development of the hinterland. It was established during the then administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. It was established as a result of the congestion in the port then that made the government and stakeholders to seek a way out. They started two bonded terminals in the far north to assist or seek ways to decongest the seaports. One was established in Kano in 1980, February to be precise and the second one was established in Kaduna in 1982 and since then, we’ve been moving containerized items from the Lagos seaports to those two terminals.
All these, coupled with an age long tradition in customer satisfaction and optimal service delivery has given ICNL an edge over other players in the maritime industry thus making us a leading integrated shipping and logistics company in West Africa.
Definitely, this company is going to expand. The reason is that with the present government helping to increase or generate employment and increasing revenue and try to diversify from oil sector to non-oil sector, agriculture is being encouraged, manufacturing also is being encouraged. For instance, Kaduna State and the President said it that the textile companies of old will be resuscitated and this will generate thousands of employment for the youths. When that is done, the cargo, both import and export, will continue to increase. You that wants to manufacture garments will continue to bring in their raw materials for manufacturing and after manufacturing, they may likely export nothing less than 70 per cent of whatever they produce outside the country. This will also make Nigeria less dependent on oil. Definitely, the volume of cargo for dry port will continue to increase.
Dry port gazetted
Source : SunOnline