Driving industrial growth and sustaining it demands putting up workable structures that will holistically support different sector operations. In this regard, the Nigerian economy can only begin to look up to a fast-track industrialisation process if new developments undertaken by government agencies, particularly in the maritime sub-sector, are properly harnessed to incorporate all vital areas to achieve the goal.
The fact that international trade works with space and time makes it necessary and important to have seamless integrated services taking charge of activities for its proper management. Industry watchers have kept a tab even as stakeholders over the years suffered constraints of congestion at the ports.
While several reasons, ranging from trade policies to operators’ compliance and effective cargo movement system internally played against the desired goal for a perfect trade management sector, modalities for the desired solutions were drafted.
The ports concession in 2006 served as the beginning of a huge change that created an ongoing evolution in the maritime front. This change did not just end with the sector, but yielded gains for the benefit of the larger economy of the nation. But the trade activities, with time, showed that there was still much to be done to keep creating suitable environments for the growing activities within the ports and the final destination of cargoes.
With increased cargo throughput and greater task at the nation’s ports, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council was given the responsibility of supervising the Public Private Partnership (PPP) project of establishing Internal Container Depots (ICDs) otherwise known as dry ports in six different locations across the country.
The ICD project was approved to be operated under the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model.
While the need for a proper legal frame-work has continued to hold back the project take-off for some time now, it would be the best for the industrialization move if and when the ICDs are given the go-ahead as ports of destination, for the purpose of trade facilitation and directing of real development to those areas.
Declaring the ICDs as ports of destination would give them the ratings of seaports, which will simply give such facilities the status to be able to receive goods straight from their points of origin. It will also mean that all necessary clearance can be done at the locations, just as it would have been at the ports.
With the commissioning, last week, of the proposed 10,000 TEUs capacity of the Funtua Container Freight Station in Katsina State, local and foreign investors should ordinarily be attracted to doing business there and thereby lessen the burden on the Lagos ports. But this expectation may still suffer some more delay until the ICDs are declared ports of destination. It invariably means that the full value for which the ICDs were intended would remain on hold.
While that requires urgent attention for the sake of ‘doing well’ what should be done, there has been some commendable steps taken in the area of developing the railway system. With the revival of the routes from the commercial city of Lagos to the Northern parts of the country, movement of goods and people has been enhanced considerably.
It is only sad that while these efforts are on to create a vibrant commodity market front by way of easy transportation by rail, the activities of insurgents have forced government to stop the rail projects meant to link the Borno State capital, Maiduguri from Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The rail project was supposed to link the commercial towns of Port Harcourt-Aba-Umuahia-Enugu- Makurdi-Lafia-Kuru-Bauchi-Gombe-Biu-Maiduguri.
It is evident that developing society at whatever level demands commitment from the led, as much as the leadership is expected to initiate and supervise the establishment of infrastructure.