By Omotilewa Quadri
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday charged the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to make the newly inaugurated Kaduna Inland Dry Port work and not to frustrate business, commercial and industrial enterprises at the port.
Speaking during the inauguration of the dry port in Kakuri, Kaduna State, the President said the project would enhance economic activities, improve revenue generation and create direct employment in the state.
He said, “Today is a landmark day for our importers and exporters. The Kaduna Inland Dry Port is the first proper Inland Dry Port to be completed among the seven approved across the country. Six others — in Ibadan, Aba, Kano, Jos, Funtua and Maiduguri — are at various stages of completion.
“Our Customs and ports officials must now make the Kaduna Inland Dry Port work. They must not frustrate business, commercial and industrial enterprises with unnecessary bureaucracy and delays. Our ease of doing business attitude must be visible; we must make this port work,” Buhari said.
The President said the dry port will provide an easy process for the exportation of farm produce from Kaduna and neighbouring states as well as landlocked countries.
“Being the first of its kind in Nigeria, it is expected to receive cargo from Apapa Port in Lagos, through the railway or by road and also export goods through the same channel.
“And the idea is to establish Inland Container Depots in the hinterland to reduce the congestion in Lagos ports and provide relief for the busy Apapa road,’’ Buhari added.
Earlier, Kaduna State Governor, Nasiru El-Rufai, said the state government would provide additional road network to the dry port to ease movement of trucks.
In a separate development, Buhari said his administration is committed to strengthening the nation’s railway system in order to boost economic activities in the country.
Buhari made the vow while commissioning two locomotives and 10 standard gauge coaches on Thursday in Kaduna.
He said that the procurement of the locomotives and coaches was part of his administration’s resolve to vigorously pursue rail development in the country in line with 25-year national strategic railway master plan.
According to him, “Other supporting projects are the purchase of more locomotives, coaches, wagons, workshops and equipment for new standard rail lines by way of encouraging private sector participation in the railway sector”.
He said that it was on this basis that his administration was focused on creating conducive environment for private sector participation to strengthen commercial activities using railways systems and promote rapid economic activities.
“By improving the lives of the citizenry and promoting National integrity, our resolve is to promote railway systems to high class standard.
“Therefore, I am using this opportunity to appeal for the support of all relevant stakeholders especially the National Assembly and all development partners in realizing this objective.’’
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, noted that the inauguration of the new standard locomotives demonstrated government’s commitments to revitalizing national infrastructure.
“Such commitment is not only key but tangible to all railway projects and its practical outcome is to improve the lives of Nigerians,” Amaechi said.