BusinessDay

FG begins process to declare all ICDs as ports of destination, origin

The Federal Government said on Tuesday that it has commenced the process of designating all the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) known as Inland Dry Ports located in the hinterland as ports of origin and destination to enable them effectively deliver on the mandate of decongesting the seaports.

The declaration by the Federal Government would enable the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to recognise these inland ports as ports where goods can be exported, and from where goods can also be imported from anywhere in the world.

Speaking in Lagos on Tuesday at the official launch of the operational manual for inland dry ports in Nigeria, Emmanuel Jime, executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), said the Federal Government is executing the process through the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

According to him, the designation would enable dry ports to fully operate as a seaport, and mandate all the agencies concerned with cargo clearance at port, to be present at the dry ports.

“The Federal Ministry of Transportation is in the process of designating all the dry ports to be port of origin and destination, which indicates that the ports are meant to effectively function in the same way the seaport function,” Jime said.

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He said the operations of the dry port would be efficient because the government has ensured that the errors in the seaports that are hindering efficient operations are further avoided at the inland ports.

He added that the Nigerian Shippers Council has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nigeria Customs Service geared towards enabling the Customs to establish a presence in all the dry ports in Nigeria.

Unveiling the manual, Muazu Sambo, minister of transportation, who was represented by Ewache Victor, deputy director, Inland Container Depot, said that in addition to trade facilitation, inland ports would enable the movement of transit cargo to landlocked countries, bring shipping activities closer to shippers in the hinterland and increase cargo throughput.

He said the inland port acts as a catalyst for improved trade flows, boosts inland trading, promotes the export of agricultural products, and creates employment opportunities that would ultimately stem rural-urban migration.

While pointing out that the manual will guide the operations of the Inland Dry Ports in Nigeria, the minister said the government has approved an awareness workshop to hold in Kano, Lagos, and Port Harcourt.

“The operational manual provides a detailed description of the main activities of the dry port. Each process is divided into specific steps of actions, with allotted time frame, responsibility for each activity, and the documents and information required,” he said.

Ajibola Odusanya, the comptroller in charge of admin in Apapa Port, assured Customs support to the Federal Government port decongestion agenda.

According to him, Customs has installed modern scanning machines in Tin-Can Island, and PTML terminals and is at the point of doing the same in Apapa Port to enable trade facilitation through fast inspection of containers.

“We are moving with the Federal Government to decongest our ports and Customs has officers ready to escort imported containers from the mother ports to the inland ports at any time,” Odusanya added.

On his part, Ayo Durowaiye, assistant general manager, operations of the Nigerian Ports Authority, who pointed out that ports in Lagos are operating well above built capacity, said that facilities such as inland ports help to complement the seaports.

He said the NPA is also working closely with the management of the Kaduna Inland Dry Port to link the port to landlocked countries that border Nigeria in the north so that transit cargoes can be moved through Kaduna.

“Inland ports not only provide options for shippers if functional but also increase the possibilities for export cargo and return of empty containers to the mother ports,” he added.

Nigeria has a fully operational inland port in Kaduna while other inland ports in Kano, Kastina, Abia, Ibadan, and Jos are at various levels of development.

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