Shippers’ Council blames Boko Haram, host state govts, others for failure of ICD project

Shippers’ Council blames Boko Haram, host state govts, others for failure of ICD project
… As Don laments how lack of good access roads hinder ports operations

The activities of the dreaded Islamist insurgents, Boko Haram, have impeded the development of the inland container depot (ICD) in Maiduguri, Borno State.
Similarly, recurrent ethnic face-off in Plateau State is a main cause of the failure of the ICD in Heipang, Jos.
The Deputy Director, Inland Transport Services of the Nigerian Shippers’Council (NSC), Mr. Abubakar Sumaila, stated these in Lagos last Saturday when he presented a paper titled Rekindling the Development and Operation if the Inland Container Depots Project in Nigeriaat the 6th Transport Development Symposium organised by Transquest Media Concept at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.
Abubakar also disclosed that incidents of kidnappings in the South-East had affected the take-off of the ICD in Isiala-Ngwa, Abia State.
He also accused some governments of the ICD host states of failure to meet their obligations in the agreements they had with some of the concessionaires, especially their failure to release funds to cover their equity share in the project.
He said that concessionaires of the six propsed dry portICDs located in Erunmu, Oyo State; Heipang, Plateau State, Zawachiki, Kano State; Isiala-Ngwa, Abia State; Maiduguri, Borno State; and Funtua, Katsina State have been clamouring for the facilities to be accorded the status of dry ports to enable them function as ports of destination for imports and ports of origin for exports.

“Concessionaires have also complained that their financiers and technical partners are not willing to support the project under the current status of the ICDs,” Abubakar stated.
He said that the NSC believes strongly in the ICD concept, as their efficient operations will integrate the country’s transport and logistics chains into the existing port system to ease vehicular and container traffic at the ports.
The NSC, according to him, is not only deploying all resources and energy towards attaining the objectives of the ICDs, but also ensuring it meets international standards and best practices.
It would be recalled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC)approved the operation of the proposed dry ports or ICDs/container freight stations (CFSs) at six locations in the country under build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) agreement on March 15, 2006.
The project was gazetted vide Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No.30 volume 94 of 21st May, 2007.

Little progress has, however, been made in getting them off the ground.
Meanwhile, the Head, Geography Department of the University of Lagos, Prof. Iyiola Oni, has said that the lack of motorable and effective road networks that will aid movement of trucks and evacuation of goods from the seaports located in various parts of the country is a major hindrance to efficient ports operations.
Also, speaking at the 6th Transport Development Symposium organised by Transquest Media Concept, Oni said that government is not paying adequate attention to the means by which goods are evacuated from the seaports, especially by road and rail transportation.
He said: “We are planning the port at Lekki but we are not thinking of the road. Where is the road? Is it the LCC (Lekki Construction Company) road? Where is the rail?”
Oni, who delivered a paper titled Nigeria’s Transport Masterplan: The Need for an Efficient Intermodal Transport System at the event, lamented the absence of inter-modal transportation plan for the country.

He said: “Synchronisation and structural weaknesses exist in the linkages between the various modes of transportation in the country.
“Integration of modal services in Nigeria has been neglected. Thus, seaports and airports are developed without regard for their linkages by road and rail.”
Oni said that an intricate interconnected transportation system will provide rapid economic growth through a reduction in the cost on transport modes.
Inter-modality, according to the university don, enhances the efficiency of the system itself and the economy as a whole.

He advocated the incorporation of the different modes of transport into“a national mode” for maximum passenger and freight efficiency and safety.
He called for the restructuring of government ministries and institutes of transportation to better support intermodal transportation.
“The government’s decision to go into partnership with private operators is a global trend, which has the concomitant effect of increased cargo movement, and the policy would not achieve its objectives if the ports remain with the present access.
“Many operators believe that the current reform would definitely improve the turnaround time for vessels. The fear is that when this happens, the ports will become congested because of an ineffective transport mode,” he said.

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