Years after the approval and commencement of the Dry Inland Ports across the country, most of them are yet to operate optimally.
The ports, LEADERSHIP Weekend findings reveal, lay waste in states and communities where billions of naira has been expended to provide facilities that are meant to aid exports.
Investigations show that in many of these communities, the youth who were promised thousands of jobs still have their hopes high that these jobs will materialise.
State governments in Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Borno, Plateau and Oyo made thousands of hectres of land available to the federal government but poor planning and a lack of coordination between the ministry of transport, successive state governments and relevant agencies have made the ports inoperable.
The federal executive council had granted approval for the establishment of the Inland Dry Ports in March 2006 at six locations across the country namely Isiala- Ngwa- Abia State; Erunmu Ibadan – Oyo State; Heipang Jos – Plateau State; Funtua- Katsina State; Maiduguri – Borno State and Dala, Kano State.
However, Kaduna Inland Dry Port Limited, which was not originally part of the six approved in 2006, was commissioned by the federal government in 2018 as the first port of origin for export and port of destination for import for hinterland and landlocked neighbouring countries with no sea ports like Niger Republic, Chad, among others.
The Kaduna Dry Inland Port has been offering skeletal operations as non-completion of rail lines project to link the port is affecting the mass movement of containers from the seaports to the dry land, investigations revealed.
Our correspondent who visited Kaduna Inland Dry Port located in Kakuri near Railway Station reports that only a few long trucks load goods from seaports and off load to the dry port per day.
An official of the Kaduna Inland Dry Port who did not want his name mentioned explained: “In a day, only ten or fifteen trucks load from seaports in Lagos and bring goods in this port for onward movement to far northern states. We are not operating fully as it is supposed to be.”
In a telephone interview with LEADERSHIP Weekend, the general manager of Kaduna Inland Dry Port, Rotimi Raimi-Hassan, lamented the lack of rail lines linking the dry port, saying it is the major challenge facing the dry inland port operations.
The general manager identified other major challenges confronting the Kaduna dry inland port. He said, “Since we launched the Kaduna Dry Inland Port, we have been working perfectly well. Having said that, we have challenges like customs, railway among others we are facing.
“On the issue of customs there is no customs template for ICDs to operate and government should look into it. On the railway issue, inland dry ports cannot work effectively without rail lines connecting to them.”
Raimi-Hasaan said, “A dry port must have rail access from the seaport to dry port so that the transportation of moving goods from seaports to dry ports will be cheaper. There should be political will to back up dry port operations in the country.
“We have about 600 direct and indirect staff and workers working in our port. We have from 300 to 350 containers of goods from seaports every month to our port here. We welcome the new administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and we appeal to him to look into inland dry ports challenges to reposition it.”
The immediate past governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai had in 2017 during the final inspection of the Kaduna Inland Dry Port before the commissioning said the facility will boost the country’s export capacity by over $50billion annually.
The port has the capacity to handle 29,000 tonnes of cargoes yearly and is estimated to generate about 5000 employment opportunities
The general manager of the Dry Port had earlier said the port stands out as most suitable for international trade facilitation in the North.
He said aside from being the first dry port in Nigeria, Kaduna Port stands out as the best in West Africa, with staff strength of persons having over three decades of maritime experience, matching knowledge with latest technology.
According to him, the port is a solution provider that has blazed the trail for other dry ports in the country.
In Plateau State, 17 years after the inauguration of the Jos Inland Container Depot (JICD), Heipang, in Barki Ladi local government area by former head of state, Gen Yakubu Gowon (rtd), the project is yet to commence operation in the state.
Duncan Container Dry Port Limited, the concessionaire, was given a presidential approval for the construction of Jos Inland Dry Port in 2006.
The JICD covers over 33.9 hectare of land provided for the JICD from 100 hectares acquired by the state government. When completed, it will create over 5000 jobs.
The Jos Inland container depot, JICD, suffered a great setback in 2014 when the site was demolished by former Governor Jonah Jang’s administration in August 2014 before Duncan Maritime International commenced work again.
In 2021, Plateau State government, under the leadership of immediate past governor, Simon Lalong, took over ownership of the Jos Inland Container Depot (ICD) from Duncan Maritime Ventures Nig. Ltd.
The memorandum of agreement signifying the change in ownership was signed between the Plateau State government and Chief Godfrey Bawa, managing director of Duncan Ventures, at a cost of N2.2 billion based on its economic benefits.
Speaking to our correspondent, Heipang youth leader, Chuwang Davou, said the presence of the depot will bring food to their tables, as a lot of youths will be engaged in the value chain.
According to him, their landlords too will benefit, as most of the houses will be rented out for people coming to do business in Heipang and its surrounding communities.
He pointed out that the value of their lands will appreciate and it will open up their villages to international communities and Heipang will be a hub where stakeholders in dry port business will converge.
Davou appealed to the state governor, Caleb Mutfwang, to engage a qualified concessionaire with a view to completing the project because of the economic benefits to the people of North Central zone.
Similarly, the federal government in February 2023 declared Funtua Inland Dry Port in Kastina State as a port of origin and final destination for import and export of cargoes.
The port has not been in operation since its declaration as a port of origin and final destination for the import and export of cargoes in February this year by the then minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo.
But a fact check by this paper on the facility revealed that it is lying dormant and is only used by some people to store their goods for some time, as efforts to reach director of the Port failed.
The Funtua Dry Port was first established in March 2006 by the Federal Executive Council as container freight station and was later converted to an inland dry port and that this critical transport infrastructure is based on the strategic framework of build, owning, operating and transferring (BOOT).
The state permanent secretary in the ministry of Commerce, Musa Sule, had recently said the state, as part of its contribution to the project, facilitated 16.2 hectares of land and also paid compensation to the land owners.
He explained that the step was taken based on the conviction that when fully operational, the port will create employment for the immediate community and its environs, support the revenue base of the state and facilitate trade within and outside the country.
Also, in August 2022, the federal government declared Dala Inland Dry Port, Kano, as port of origin for export of goods and final destination for goods brought into the country via the nation’s seaports.
The then minister of Transportation, Engr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, while making the declaration in Kano on behalf of the federal government, disclosed that the project was part of federal government’s reform programme to promote efficient transportation, decongest the seaports and bring shipping and ports services closer to importers and exporters.
Sambo said, “In today’s new global economy, speed to the markets with finished goods and lower shipping costs are the main drivers more than ever before. The Dala IDP will facilitate this and more.”
On why the project was located in Kano, he said, “The importance of Kano State as the commercial capital of northern Nigeria with huge agricultural trade and export volume is well documented.
“The State has a sizeable number of textile and agro-allied industries, assembly plants amongst others and several manufacturing industries. It is not only suited but most qualified”.
He equally called on shipping companies, maritime practitioners, land-locked countries like Chad, Niger and other port users to take full advantage of the Dala IDP for import and export of their cargoes.
But part of challenges hampering the full use of the dry ports is the lack of connection to rail systems.
On linking the railway to the Port, the managing director, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Engr Fidet Okhiria, said, “The Board of NRC has approved track access to anybody or company wishing to provide the infrastructure, that is the rolling stock to operate on the track which i hope Dala Inland Dry Port will tap in so that they can maximise the essence of having rail track into their premises”.
Also, the general manager of the Kaduna Dry Inland Port harped on the need for incentives to be given to shippers to bring cargo to Kaduna instead of taking it to Lagos and other seaports in the south.
He said, “Since 2018, we have not been able to commence full dry ports. Kaduna is the first full dry port, and others are still coming. There should be a process by which dry inland ports should operate. We need at least five locomotives and 100 wagons for us to operate.
“The shipping companies should encourage shipping activities to thrive by sending their services to commence documentation processes for cargo destined for Kaduna Inland dry port by issuing true bill of lading.
The essence of the dry port is to decongest the ports and bring shipping services to the internal shippers, this has not been done.
“Most of our customers in the north, particularly in Kaduna and Kano, do ask the shipping lines that their cargos should be destined to Kaduna, but the shipping companies said the recognised ports are Apapa Port and Port Harcourt and they don’t recognise the dry inland port.”
Kano-Maradi Rail Line Contractor Evacuates $200m Construction Equipment From Lagos Port
Meanwhile, Mota-Engil has evacuated equipment worth $200million for the construction of $2billion Kano-Maradi Rail line from the Port and Cargo Terminals in Lagos.
The construction equipment which berthed in Lagos during the week is being added to Mota-Engil’s already impressive inventory.
Some of the equipment are Wheel loaders; backhoe loaders; crawler excavators; medium lift and heavy lift.
Others are truck mounted concrete pumps; concrete mixer trucks; telehandlers; motor graders; vibratory soil compactors; pneumatic rollers; mobile cranes; tipper trucks, among others.
Speaking with journalists while taking delivery of the equipment in Lagos, the company’s logistics manager, Nuno Colaço, said this latest acquisition is a strategic investment for the present and for the future.
He said further that the project was not only a landmark for the development of the railway infrastructure in Nigeria but also for the whole of West Africa.
The Customs controller of Tin Can Island Command, Adekunle Oloyede, said lately there has been a decrease of cargo throughput at the ports and expressed his delight at the sheer size of the Mota-Engil import, noting that it is evidence that the Nigerian economy is on the rebound.
Last month, MOTA-ENGIL had also taken delivery of some equipment which has been dispatched to their various project sites.
Among its many projects in Nigeria,is the construction of the $1.959 billion Kano-Maradi Standard Gauge Railway lines, the Sagamu-Benin expressway, the Lagos-Badagry expressway and is the reserved bidder for the 4th Mainland bridge in Lagos.
In 2018, Shoreline Group, the Nigerian energy and industrial conglomerate founded by Kola Karim, partnered Mota-Engil, a publicly listed Portuguese Construction Company to establish Mota-Engil Nigeria.