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Inland Dry Ports Bring Economic Diversification Alive

The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC’s) initiative of developing seven inland dry ports across the country has been described a critical move to bring alive the economic diversification agenda of the Federal Government.

This came to the fore when President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated Nigeria’s first inland dry port in Kaduna State.Buhari with other ministers and stakeholders at the flagging off of the Inland Container Depot (ICD), raised the hope that the facility would buoy the nation’s economy.

The Kaduna Inland dry port, with the capacity to handle 29,000 tonnes of cargoes yearly, is expected to serve as a port of origin and port of destination, as cargoes would be conveyed through locomotives from the seaports in Lagos to Kaduna.

The President, who noted that the industries and businesses have waited for too long for the facility, said the inland dry port would accelerate the implementation of the Federal Government’s economic diversification agenda.

According to him, the dry port provides importers and exporters in the hinterland the opportunity to ship and clear cargo with ease without travelling to Lagos.

This, he said, will largely reduce the cost of transportation and cost of doing business, and eliminate the congestion and traffic gridlock at Lagos ports.

Buhari also charged the Nigerian Customs and other stakeholders to make the facility to work efficiently, and not frustrate businesses at the dry port.

He acknowledged the inputs of the Shippers’ Council to economic recovery and expressed the hope that the six other Inland Depots at various stages of construction would be completed in earnest.

The Kaduna Inland Dry Port Limited is among the seven dry ports being promoted by the NSC. Others are in Isiala Ngwa (Abia State); Erunmu, Ibadan (Oyo State); Heipang (Plateau State); Zawachiki (Kano State); Funtua (Katsina State); and Maiduguri (Borno State).

The Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the project is targeted at alleviating the challenges of shipping in the hinterland, adding that the project would facilitate the movement of cargoes to boost the economy, generate employment opportunities, and buoy the earnings of Kaduna State.

Amaechi clarified that the facility is a Public-Private Project between the Nigerian Shippers Council, Kaduna State Government, and the Inland Containers Nigeria Limited (ICNL).

“Not only will this create employment, it will also facilitate importation and solves the problem of importers and exporters who are far away from the seaports. It will improve the ease of doing business, promote agricultural production and reduce over-dependence on oil,” he said.

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El Rufai, said the Government is putting facilities in place to ease doing businesses at the dry port and also building a concrete road to access it, while arrangements are in place to construct a second road to ease movement in and out of the port.

The Executive Secretary, NSC, Hassan Bello, said the idea of the dry port is to stimulate the economies where the ports are located, adding that the facility is not just an infrastructure, but a modern infrastructure.

He said the Council is keenly technical about the projects to avoid the mistakes of Apapa seaports and integrate electronic gathering and cargo clearing automation.

“It is also estimated to generate no fewer than 5,000 direct employment at the commencement of operations. The Kaduna Dry Port, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria, would receive cargo from Apapa Port in Lagos, through the railway or by road, and also export goods through the same channel,” he said.

He said the port would provide an easy process for the exportation of farm produce from Kaduna and neighbouring states as well as landlocked countries.

The Chairman, Kaduna Inland Dryport, Tope Borishade, encouraged farmers to form cooperatives, and come forward with their farm produce to take advantage of the 4,000 square meter capacity warehouse at the port to store and consolidate their goods for export to various countries.

“It is a well-known fact that Kaduna State is the largest producer of ginger in the country, and the new port provides the opportunity for the exportation of processed agricultural products to other countries of the world.

“The market for agricultural produce from Kaduna will improve from today, with the exportation of the produce and others such as hibiscus, sesame seed, Shea butter among others to China, Singapore, America, United Kingdom and other countries where demands are high,” he said.

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