Concerned over the slow pace of work at the sites of the proposed Inland Dry Port (IDP) projects, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has moved to assist concessionaires of the ports in attracting investors as well as the needed funding for the projects.
Inland Dry Port, also known as Inland Container Depots (ICDs), is a Federal Government’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) project, to be situated across the six geo-political zones of the country in Kano; Jos, Plateau State; Isiala Ngwa, Abia State; Borno, Maiduguri; Kaduna and Ibadan.
Concessionaires of these six ports include Duncan Maritime Ltd – Jos; Eastgate Inland Container Terminal Ltd – Isiala Ngwa, Abia State; Dala Inland Dry Port – Kano; Migfor Nigeria Ltd – Maiduguri; Catamaran Logistics Ltd – Ibadan and Equitorial Marine Ltd – Funtua.
BusinessDay understands that apart from the Kaduna IDP which has taken off since January 2018, the rest are being delayed due to lack of funding for project execution.
To facilitate the completion of these projects, Shippers Council has approached the Commonwealth Enterprise Investment Council (CWEIC) to be involved in the search for interested investors for the IDP projects.
It was gathered that Hassan Bello, executive secretary of NSC, has already visited the London office of the body, which was established in 2014 with the mandate of promoting intra-commonwealth trade and investments across the 53 member countries.
Bello also led the management team of the Council to attend the Advisory Council Meeting of CWEIC held recently in Lagos during which a lot of business opportunities across and beyond Nigerian were laid bare.
According to the Council, the aim was to attract investors from other Commonwealth countries to show interest in the IDP projects in order to achieve speedy completion.
Apart from IDP projects, the Council is also interested in getting investors for development of other transport infrastructure such as Truck Transit Parks (TTP) and Border Information Centres.
Meanwhile, Bello said that both IDP and TTP projects would have multiplier effects on the national economy with thousands of jobs created on completion.
“The dry port project is imperative to trade facilitation as it will enable shippers in the hinterland to import and export without having to travel to Lagos seaports or other seaports in Nigeria,” Bello said.
Citing example, he said that with the already built Kaduna IDP, importers in any part of the world can bring in their consignment Kaduna as Port of Destination. “Similarly, exporters within the zone can export their goods using the dry port without having to go through Lagos ports.”
Recall that the Council had over two years ago expressed concerns about the delay in construction works and ordered the concessionaires to quicken work on the sites or lose their licenses.
“If for any reason, we see some unwillingness to execute this project the government will not hesitate to terminate this concession. The government has an obligation to bring out consistent policies that will encourage the private sector to perform. The concessionaires too have an obligation,” Bello said.
He further described government as an enabler that will do everything possible to ensure that these projects come on stream, adding that there was need to see some level of seriousness on the side of the concessionaires.
“The private sector must show some responsibility because now we have in that agreement, new time lines and we have to act according to the time lines. Anywhere you want us to intervene for you to grow, do not hesitate to tell us. We want to see action and if we don’t see action, we will not hesitate to cancel any concession in accordance with the agreement,” he warned.
Though the Council had taken a hard position to ensure that the concessionaires complete their projects, it has also shown commitment to lending a helping hand to accelerate investments in the IDPs and TTPS for the concessionaires to succeed.
“The ultimate goal of the Council is to see that the projects come to fruition as soon as possible, considering the benefits to the national economy and states where they are sited,” a source close to NSC, who does want his name in print, told BusinessDay.
The source further disclosed that the Council wants to use its contacts to link the concessionaires to possible investors in either the IDP or TTP projects.
However, Bello had late last year assured concessionaires of rail connection to the dry ports through the seaports to ensure ease of cargo movement.
He said that the Federal Government through the Transport Ministry was working hard to ensure rail connection to the dry ports, adding that lack of adequate rail infrastructure would affect the dry ports negatively.