According to Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the Kaduna Inland Dry Port is one of seven approved locations for dry ports, which were concessioned to private sector operators. Their locations in Ibadan, Aba, Kano, Jos, Funtua, Maiduguri and Kaduna were aimed at decongesting the excessive traffic at Nigeria’s seaports in the south. Daily Trust takes a look at the port three years after
On January 4, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the Kaduna Inland Dry Port (KIDP); Nigeria’s pilot project in dry port operations with the aim of bringing maritime activities closer to the hinterland.
However, three years since its establishment, the Kaduna Inland Dry Port; the first in the country and presently the most active, cannot be said to have achieved the primary aim of decongesting the seaport. Situated along Kachia road, off Railway Avenue in Kaduna, the dry port can be said to have made some modest achievements in the last three years. Daily Trust, however, reports that its operations still fall below its expected capacity of 29,000 containers per annum.
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Presently handling about 3,000 full containers per annum, the management of the port told our correspondent that the seemingly low capacity was primarily due to two major factors that dwell on the lack of a functional rail system and the fact that shipping companies do not issue Through Bill of Lading (TBL) to northern shippers.
The Nigerian Shippers’ Council website states that an inland dry port or Inland Container Deports (ICD) is the equivalent of a seaport located in the hinterland which receives containers by rail or road from the seaport for examination and clearance by customs and other competent authorities. “It has all the loading and off-loading equipment needed to handle containers,” the website stated.
A visit to Kaduna dry port proves that the facility has all the loading and off-loading equipment needed for operation as well as trailer parks and a 4,000 square meters capacity warehouse for storage of imported or ready-to-be-exported goods. Daily Trust Saturday observed modest activities as trucks were seen ready for road freight.
During its commissioning, President Buhari had said the KIDP will serve as a port of origin for exports and port of destination for imports, as well as accelerate the implementation of the country’s economic diversification policy. It was however gathered that the dry port’s operations are presently under the old system of bond status as cargoes operate road freight, which is expensive to shippers who also complain of fluctuating prices.
Daily Trust Saturday observed that the dry port is situated a few metres from the Nigerian Railway Corporation with a rail line from Lagos to Kano and a connecting line that enters the port premises. However, the port’s General Manager, Rotimi Raimi Hassan, said the lack of a locomotive and wagon has hindered the rail operation. “In 2019, the governor of Kaduna State came to flag off the container rail wagon and we did it for about three months then it stopped. The reason then was because of the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge. But now that it has been completed, we hope they will commence operation even though the COVID-19 pandemic has also affected these things,” he said.
Hassan said another major challenge for the dry port has been for shipping companies to issue Through Bill of Lading to allow cargos destined to the dry port as the final destination. “If you’re in Kaduna and importing from China, Lagos is not the final destination, Kaduna is the final destination so Lagos is just a transit port and it is their responsibility to move the cargo here because the owner has paid for both ocean and inland freight but that is not the case,” he said.
He, however, said the challenge for Through Bill of Lading was also linked to the railway system, adding that: “The shippers are saying they cannot key in because the rail is ineffective and Nigerian roads are not only bad but the prices of trucks are not fixed. Because if you tell an importer this is the price and the goods arrive in Nigeria then you start to say the price of the truck has increased, then the question is, who will carry the liability?”
With Kaduna considered as the centre of commerce and industry in northern Nigeria, the state government had quickly keyed into the dry port project by providing access road, electricity and water to the dry port. It was, however, observed that one lane of the road to the dry port had been completed using concrete while the other lane appears suspended. The Port General Manager said: “What host states should do is to provide water, access road and electricity which the Kaduna State government has done for us. The road is not completed yet. Initially, the road was tarred but the governor decided to make it concrete because he didn’t want the road damaged after a short period of time but the work is yet to be completed.”
Being in the heart of the city and strategically close to the Railway Corporation, Governor Nasir El-Rufai had in 2019 said he would send a delegation to the Niger Republic to sensitize them about receiving goods at the Kaduna dry port instead of the seaport in Lagos. Hassan said the management of the dry port had visited the Niger Republic and were in talks with the government before the advent of COVID-19 pandemic.
Being a top producer of cash crops such as ginger and solid minerals for possible export, Hassan said when all the challenges are surmounted, the port will certainly boost the economic activities of Kaduna State and other northern states both for export and import. “In 2019, we had about 2000 metric tons of ginger, solid minerals and other export goods but in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our achievement was not too good. However, this year we are seeing more prospects because we have about 20 containers between now and February,” the manager said.
Daily Trust reports that even though most of the other six dry ports will learn from the successes and failures of Kaduna Inland Dry Port, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council website states that in addition to the seven gazettes ICDs, there have been proposals from the private sector to establish additional ICDs in Osun, Kebbi, Anambra and Delta states.