The Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello has assured that the new Inland Dry Port IDP proposed to be built in Ibadan at the cost of $500million will help address the problem of congestion at the nation’s seaports.

Recall that the council had signed a   Memorandum of Understanding MoU with some Chinese investors for the development Ibadan Dry Port project, which is designed to take full advantage of the strategic location and importance of Ibadan city for possible movement of cargo to other parts of the country.

The council, which also sought the support of the Oyo State Government, had visited former Governor Abiola Ajimobi to introduce the IDP project as well as its proposed Truck Transit Park TTP, estimated to gulp N4.8 billion through the Public Private Partnership PPP.

Bello, who spoke in Lagos in reaction to the return of sanity to Apapa through the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on Apapa gridlock headed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, said that the Ibadan IDP and others scattered across the country in Kaduna, Onitsha, Aba and Kano when fully operational will help decongest the nation’s conventional seaports.

He disclosed that the Ibadan IDP with a 40, 000 Twenty Equivalent Units TEUs of cargo is being built by some Chinese investors.

According to him, the seaports are transit areas and not for storage, a development that informed the decision of the council to come up with the idea of setting up the IDPs to take the pressure off the conventional seaports in the country.

On the need for a modern traffic management system in Apapa, Bello noted that the council carried out a study, which revealed that over 7, 000 trucks visit Apapa daily while only 1, 600 are needed to lift cargo on daily basis, leaving a glut of 5, 400 trucks, which makes the traffic situation chaotic.

“The return of sanity to Apapa is only a short gap measure to stop extortion and restore order and sanity but there are other medium and long term plans, which include the modern traffic management system I talked about earlier, a partnership between the Nigerian Ports Authority and the National Inland Waterways Authority on the movement of cargo with barges.

“In the long term, we are looking at linking the seaports with rail lines to pave way for multi-modal and integrated transport systems for the movement of cargo in and out of the seaports. It is only natural that the seaports will experience congestion at this point because the volume of cargo is growing and the nation’s population is not static”, he said emphatically.

He disclosed that Apapa Port for instance had a cargo throughput of about 23 million metric tonnes of cargo in the 1970s, which has grown to over 83 million metric tonnes now, given that the nation’s population grows by 2.5 per cent annually, which also means that imports and exports have also grown over time.

While expressing appreciation to the Lagos State Government for its commitment towards addressing the Apapa gridlock, he also commended other sister agencies including NPA, NIWA, shipping companies, terminal operators and even truck owners for their cooperation, which culminated in the creation of container holding bays and truck terminals.

Bello, who also admitted that the gridlock in Apapa was caused by failure of infrastructure and planning, however assured that all hands are on deck towards finding a lasting solution to the problem both in the short, medium and long term.