Since the Kaduna Inland Dry Port was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in January, government agencies responsible for full operations of the facility have been busy putting in place all the requirements to ensure that it competes with other Inland Container Depots (ICDs) across the globe. In this interview, the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Barrister Hassan Bello sheds more light on what his council, which is the implementing agency for the port is doing, among other issues. Excerpts:
Daily Trust: The commissioning of the Kaduna Inland Dry Port by President Muhammadu Buhari was greeted with excitement by residents, who are the immediate beneficiaries. What are some of the post-commissioning developments?
Hassan Bello: As you already know, it is the first among the seven Inland Container Depots (ICDs) to qualify to be so commissioned, having fulfilled the basic requirements of a modern Inland Dry Port. Since then, Government Agencies responsible for ensuring that the facility is fully operational, notably, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have been busy putting in place all that is required to achieve that.
At the instance of the project implementation agency i.e. Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has issued a STATION CODE to Kaduna Inland Dry Port. The code is a Mandatory Certification, by the National Customs Administration, authorizing shipping lines to accept cargo bound for Kaduna Inland Dry Port, from any part of the world and also for them to accept export cargo from the facility thereby effectively declaring the facility as a port of destination and a port of origin. This declaration is the single most important requirement for the facility to operate as an Inland Dry Port and it has been fulfilled.
Also at the instance of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has commenced a week long activities, with effect from Tuesday 3rd March, 2018, for the Deployment of Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System II (NICIS II) at the Kaduna Inland Dry Port, thereby making it the 3rd port (after Kirikiri Lighter Terminal and Tincan Island Port) nationwide, to be connected to the latest customs cargo clearance platform, even ahead of the premier Apapa Port Complex, Onne, Rivers, Calabar and Warri ports. A team of 8 senior customs officers have been dispatched from their Headquarters to KIDP for the exercise which will end on Monday next week with the training of stakeholders on the new system. Deployment of NICIS II will make cargo clearance at the Inland Dry Port, faster and more efficient than in most of the nation’s seaports;
DT: In specific terms, how would all these put food on the tables of the ordinary Nigerians and also create employment opportunities?
Bello: There is no gainsaying the fact that the Kaduna Inland Dry Port will create tens of thousands of jobs. All dry ports do. The potentials for jobs creation are even high in the case KIDP. Like you know, agriculture is the main stay of Kaduna State and indeed the neighbouring states of Northern Nigeria as well as the landlocked countries that share common border with Nigeria, like Niger, Chad and Cameroon. For instance, Kaduna State is known to be the largest producer of ginger in the country, so the new port provides the opportunity for the exportation of processed agricultural produce to other countries of the world. The market for Kaduna ginger will improve tremendously once the dry port commences full operations with exportation of the produce and others such as hibiscus, sesame seed, Shea butter etc to China, Singapore, America, UK and other countries of the world where agricultural products are in high demand.
That’s not all. Anywhere that shipping business takes place, you will find a chain of other businesses. In the case of Kaduna Inland Dry Port, there will agricultural processing centres, banks, etc. Already, Nigerian Shippers’ Council has invited NEXIM Bank to explore the possibility of financing some investment projects (such as agric. cargo processing centers etc.) in the Kaduna Inland Dry Port, towards boosting its capacity and diversifying its services. I assure you that many jobs will be created and the people of Kaduna State and Nigerians will be happy.
DT: Aside job creation and revenue generation, what other opportunities can be derived from this project?
Bello: Dry ports bring shipping to the doorsteps of the common man. It reduces the cost of transportation and also a centre for export. One key advantage of the dry port is that it solves logistical problems that are associated with shipping business at the seaports. The process of export is tedious, and so the contribution is to bring the port near the people. The definition of a modern port is where goods are loaded and discharged. You need not have any water element or maritime. So a dry port is as good a port as Apapa. It is a port of origin and destination, a port of loading and discharge.
And since the Customs are here, the goods meant for export will be examined, not in Lagos or Port Harcourt, but in Kaduna. You pay custom duty there. So, they are just transported from the sea, directly to the dry port. We have them in five locations. Unfortunately, their development has not been even and rightly they couldn’t have been.
We have now signed new agreements with the concessionaires and have already given them a kind of subtle warning that the concession will be revoked if we don’t see any progress. Kaduna is operating now as a dry port and we are doing all within our powers to make it a kind of an industrial hub. Kaduna has the best ginger but they cannot meet export expectations. Before you export, it goes bad, so you need to have processing plants.
DT: The operation of Inland Container Depots (ICDs) in Nigeria predates the current efforts being spearheaded by the Shippers Council. What did you do differently to ensure the commencement of this important project?
Bello: The Dry Port Project is a tripartite arrangement between the Federal Government (represented by the Nigerian Shippers Council), the Kaduna State Government and the Inland Container Nigeria Limited (ICNL), the Concessionaire of the Kaduna Inland Dry Port. The Kaduna Inland Dry Port is a success story largely because of the support that we have continued to receive from the governor of the state, Malam Nasir El-Rufai. I want to say emphatically that he and Mr. President have been of tremendous support to ensure smooth running.
Significantly, the Kaduna State Government is working very hard at ensuring that all the infrastructure needed at the port; the road, the rail and all equipment necessary for the operation, are in place. The management of the Nigerian Railway Corporation has also been very helpful. It has dedicated 20 cargoes to Kaduna Dry Port and the stakeholders are already canvassing for cargoes from China and United Kingdom as the port is a port of origin and destination.
Let me therefore use this medium to appeal to the concessionaires of the six other dry ports in Isiala Ngwa (Abia State), Erunmu, Ibadan (Oyo State), Heipang (Plateau State), Zawachiki (Kano State), Funtua (Katsina State) and Maiduguri (Borno State), to hasten development.