Two years after it was commissioned as first dry port in Nigeria, the Kaduna Inland Dry Port has unveiled its big plans for 2021 and beyond despite many challenges that affected businesses in 2020.
Rotimi Raimi Hassan , General Manager, told newsmen that the port has prospects of supporting national economic growth and hopes to surpass many challenges.
“We plan to provide services in enabling port environment that are conducive for port users and stakeholders. We will ensure that Customs documentation and delivery are ready within 48 hours for our port users.
“We have modern facilities and qualified staff in attendance. Next year, we envisage that both rail and road will be mode of transportation from seaports to Kaduna Inland dry port. By then, we expect full operations of import and export activities.
“We hope to diversify into vehicle transfer operations and other intervention services to assist the rapid growth of industrialization and development of the hinterland particularly in Kaduna State and neighboring states and the FCT,” Hassan said.
He added: “We have received close to 3,500 TEU or 68,420 metric tons while export forwarding now has lots of prospects, now that we are entering export season.
“We are making contacts with exporters and it is very clear that we would have lots of export goods exiting from our dry port .
“Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has appointed Cobalt International Limited as Pre-Inspection Agent. Other private inspection agency – Bureau Veritas have shown interest to operate from KIDP.
“The beauty of it is that freight forwarders have the benefits to process with Customs at export seat and with other relevant units to transport export goods to ships in Lagos, Onne, Tincan island, and Warri ports from Kaduna Dry Port
“For an inland containers dry port to operate optimum, the rail system must be effective and efficient in their cargo delivery and operate in accordance with scheduled rail movement chart.
“In developed countries, rail lines were connected/linked to the seaport, for evacuation of laden containers and general cargos and, return leg into seaport with either empty or export goods containers
“We are hopeful because the Federal Government is working towards helping to emplace this critical railway infrastructure required for seamless cargo movement. We are aware that work is ongoing in this regard.”
The port, according to him had projected 6,000 TEUs for year 2020 but suffered a setback due to effects of Covid-19 pandemic.
“Though it suffered the lull, Kaduna Inland Dry Port was not shut during the Covid-19 lockdown period because it enjoyed the status of an essential economic service provider,” he said.
According to Hassan, “We sought for and obtained approval from the Kaduna State government for our staff and Customs agents to move out from their homes; to operate and clear their consignments from Kaduna inland dry port terminal. I must add that Governor Nasir El-Rufai graciously approved. He has indeed been very supportive for our port.
“We experienced effects of the lockdown for almost a period of five months before movement was gradually restored and business activities are just about picking up.
The losses were huge because it reduced our expected containers throughout since its outbreak in Nigeria in February, this year. This affected our business activities, our volume of trade and our income.
The economic activities were brought down to its lowest ebb like never before, worse than any public holiday or industrial strike.
it affected international trade transactions and virtually grounded the world economy almost into a recession. The customs license agents operating in our port had it difficult to pay duty and take delivery of cargoes due to fear of contacting and spreading of corona virus that has no vaccine.
In the face of lockdown, the port rearranged it’s operational activities to cope with current trend in existence and managed the situation in order not put its staff and other port users at risk.
It directed that only the operations staff to come to work daily while other support staff worked from home. It complied with all the Covid-19 protocols and its still in compliance presently. Kaduna Inland Dry Port left nothing to chance as it never took anything for granted,” he said.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor El-Rufai and the Nigerian Shippers Council believe that Kaduna Dry Port holds potentials for greater economic growth.
“The idea to establish inland container depots in the hinterland was informed by the need to reduce the congestion in Lagos ports and provide relief for the busy Apapa road which KIDP provides a direct solution if fully utilised.
“It provides an easy process for the exportation of farm produce from Kaduna and neighboring states, as well as some landlocked countries under the aegis of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
With Kaduna State being one of the largest producer of ginger in the country, the port provides opportunity to export processed agricultural crops and earn foreign exchange.
The market for Kaduna ginger will improve tremendously once the dry port commences full operation with rail services.
Other farm produce such as hibiscus, sesame seed and shea butter would be exported to China, Singapore, America, UK and other countries where agricultural products are in high demand from 2021 and beyond with enabling infrastructure,” he said.