Uche Usim, Abuja
The Kaduna Inland Dry port, operated by Inland Containers Nigeria Limited (ICNL) was inaugurated in 2018 and since then, operations in that facility have not attained full capacity.
The facility is part of government’s efforts at checking the N30 billion reportedly lost daily to perennial congestion in the Lagos seaports, the concomitant crash in revenue and the frightening unemployment challenge facing the country.
In this interview, the Managing Director of ICNL, Ismail Yusuf, explains why the facility is still underutilised two years after commissioning.
He explains the company’s expansion programme for 2020 and the kind of government support needed for accelerated economic impact.
Generally, Kaduna Inland Dry Port has been performing and improving on the activities right from the commissioning of the place by the President in 2018.
Though we are expected to be moving containers from the seaport to Kaduna Inland Dry Port and we all know that the Nigerian Railway Corporation are also trying to ensure that they move some of the containers to the dry port within the capacity they have. You know that capacity cannot cope with the traffic going to the dry port, so we have to complement it with trucks moving by roads.
In 2018, we moved about 7000 containers after the commissioning and in 2019 almost 10,000 TEUs moved to Kaduna dry port and there is also improvement on export as a result of marketing activities of the staff of the Kaduna Inland Dry Port.
They have been able to meet with companies who are also patronizing the port for onward transfers to the seaport and from seaport to different countries worldwide.
We also have challenges because Kaduna dry port is expected to have moved more than the number of cargos we have moved so far.
One setback is that at the seaports still treat Kaduna dry port like other bonded terminals on paper, instead of giving it a preference that containers coming to Kaduna through the apapa port or other ports in Lagos are on transit.
They are supposed to make provision for a stacking area where these containers will be moved to the dry port.
Customs NICIS II has not gotten provision for Kaduna dry port or other dry ports in the country. NICIS II doesn’t have our dry port in their platform yet.
This issue has been discussed with the Customs and very soon they will look into it and ensure the platform is created for Kaduna inland Dry Port to enable them move containers there as expected.
On our trucking by road, we have challenges of trucks coming into the port like every other port user.
When you have your trucks on queue for two weeks, unable to access Lagos ports and these containers are not be cleared in Lagos because they are going to a distance of about 1000km away.
I think for ease of doing business the port administration is supposed to give us a preference so we can have access to the port on time and move containers to the dry port quickly. But that is not the case now.
We pay a lot, before getting containers out of the port to Kaduna dry port and not only that, the roads also are bad . Sometimes, when we are passing through to Jeba, Mokwa sometime trucks spend 2 days on the road when there is accident or a breakdown by other vehicles on the road especially during raining season We discovered that people going through that route takes days before they were able to get to their destination and that is one of the challenges as well.
We are also talking about shipping companies encouraging importers or shippers to make use of Kaduna as port of final destination.
Since the federal government commissioned the port they should also know that it is their responsibility to sell the idea to shippers from abroad that we have a dry port .
The shippers should know that instead of using Apapa as final destination for consignments going to Kaduna Inland Dry Port, the dry port should be stated in the true bill of laden.
Because of what some persons are benefitting from what is happening here in Lagos ,they don’t want to encourage anyone to use the dry port.
We have reported the case to both the landlord to the port here,that is the NPA and we also reported the case to the regulator which Nigerian Shippers Council and they. They both promised looking into it.
We have people that are bringing soya beans and mineral resources from Kaduna. We have about 200 trucks we have moved from one particular customer from Kaduna dry port to this place. We also have people that are moving ginger also from Kaduna to apapa for export.
The value of these exports is huge. We moved mineral resources. One container of the mineral resources moved cannot not be less than $10,000 and we have moved 200 of such.
I think from the information supplied when the port was commissioned the port has up to 29,000 capacity Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) annually so from the explanation I gave to you now we have just about 9000 TEU utilisation for the year 2019.
That is far below 50%. Talking about 9000 out of 29,000 capacity. But if all these challenges I have mentioned are reduced to the minimal I think there will be improvement on the utilisation of the dry port.
I can say the Kaduna State government is 100 per cent supportive. I don’t think any state government is supporting any other dry port project that is coming up like Kaduna is doing to us.
The state governor has given us pipe borne water by digging three different bore holes with solar pumping machines in the port.
They have also supplied light to electrify the whole terminal and they constructing quality road which is concrete type. I think they have gotten to 50% completion. The Kaduna State Government is not only providing support infrastructure ,they are also canvassing for business for the dry port.
Our goals for Kaduna dry port in 2020 is to see that the activities of the port increases better than what we have presently and that why we are talking to different agencies and other stakeholders that are involved in these activities.
Secondly, we have plans to move international cargoes to neighboring countries like Niger Republic. We have visited the place twice before the border closure. I think after opening of the border we will continue our discussion with them and finalize.
We were at Shippers’ Council recently because after our visit we made a report to them and they called a stakeholder meeting for this purpose with Niger representatives in attendance .
Discussions have been made on how to resolve all those teething problems we might envisage when we want to start the transfer of cargoes from Nigeria to Niger Republic through Kaduna Dry Port .
We are also meeting manufacturing companies in the north. We are meeting state governments of different states to ensure that they patronize the port; they don’t need to come to Lagos to move their cargoes. that is the purpose of establishing the dry port that is very close to them. Before other ones come up I think they can be making use of our facility in Kaduna and they have given us positive answers.
Onitsha River Port
Onitsha Port has been won by a different companies and not Inland Containers or Kaduna Dry Port. So we have lost that, but we are still looking for ways to have our base at the Eastern part of the country. Our plan is to have a permanent terminal at Oba, Anambra State, where we can serve the people of the East.
Oba in Anambra state is about 25km away from Onitsha, about 5km away to Nnewi. So, it’s central.
Activities started in December. We have cleared the bush. We have engaged the consultant who will do the feasibility studies for us to know how viable the project will be.
When we receive the feasibility studies in one month then the board will decide the way forward from there. Once the board give go ahead we will engage architect for drawing and bill of quantity to enable us start construction work immediately.
It can take up to 5000 TEU at a go like we have in Kano
Importance of ICD
ICDs will make life easier for those in the hinterland, create jobs and drive economic growth. It attracts various vocations like restaurants, government agencies, internet/cyber cafes, banks, dealers, clinic etc. You name it. Government will experience an increase in revenue via taxes and charges, the demurrage nightmare of cargo owners and agents will be tackled and other benefits.
So, I am excited that ICNL is the first to operate an ICD in the country but more importantly, I am glad we have the chance to provide services.