Inland ports must have rail linkage, says Bello

Hassan Bello
Hassan Bello

 

The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, has said that in setting up Inland Dry Ports (IDPs) across the county, the nation must ensure effective linkage of the ports to rail lines.

Bello gave the warning on Thursday at a workshop for validation of a draft operational manual for IDPs in Nigeria.

IDPs were conceived as part of the Federal Government’s reform programme in the transport sector to decongest the seaports and bring shipping and port services closer to importers and exporters in the hinterland.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had subsequently granted approval for the establishment of Inland Dry Ports in March 2006 at six locations across the country namely, Isiala-Ngwa in Abia State, Erunmu Ibadan in Oyo State, Heipang Jos in Plateau.

Others are Kano- Kano state, Funtua in Katsina State and Maiduguri in Borno State.

The ports are to be developed on Public Private Partnership using the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model.

According to Bello, the dry ports must be of international standard, adding that if the dry ports are slow and manually driven, it will not serve the purpose of establishing it.

Bello pointed out that Messer CPCS Transcom Nigeria Limited was also engaged by the Council to draft an Operational Manual to guide the implementation and operation of the IDPs in line with international best practice.

He added that the operational manual would provide detailed processes, general outlook and those that are involved in the operation of a dry port.

Director, Maritime Services, Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT), Dauda Suleiman, noted that the project would greatly provide stimulus to the economy of the State and country at large.

“The dry ports are part of the solution to alleviate the problems of hinterland shipper’s inadequate access to the seaports and to remove frequent congestion, which result in the loss of cargo in transit, carnage and accident on our roads.

“It is pertinent to state that for these projects to succeed there must be support and collaboration with the stakeholders.

“I am happy to observe that the Ministry and Shippers’ Council is already collaborating with Nigerian Railway Corporation, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Customs Service and other stakeholders to ensure its implementation,” he said.

Suleiman urged the participants to take full advantage of the workshop to address all grey areas in the draft operational manual and to come up with workable policy that would drive the operations of the Inland dry ports.

Also speaking, representative of CPCS Transcom Nigeria Limited, Chijioke Okonkwo, while giving an overview of the draft said that the dry ports would be most efficient if they are connected to the rail line.

“Developing the inland dry port will increase the performance of the transport sector and overall competitiveness of the Nigerian economy and bring shipping and port services closer to importers and exporters in the hinterland,” he said.

As part of the recommendation reached at the end of the workshop, stakeholders agreed that there should be a three year review of the manual.

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