Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council, Barrister Hassan Bello

The Nigerian Shippers Council has said it is currently working with theInfrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission ICRC in order to work out new operational framework for the Inland Dry Ports IDPs spread across the six geo-political zones of the country.

Recall that as part of efforts to bring shipping services to the door-steps  of shippers in the hinterlands and also reduce pressure on the existing conventional seaports, the council had established the IDPs Funtua in Katsina State,  Dala, Kano State even as another one is located in Maiduguri, North East of the country.

Others include the Heipang, Jos IDP, Plateau State, North Central, the Erunmu, Ibadan IDP, Oyo State South West Nigeria even as Eastgate Inland Container Terminal Ltd won the bid for the Isiala Ngwa, Aba, Abia State South East Nigeria and the Kaduna IDP, which is the most recent and which is the only one that is fully operational.

Executive Secretary/CEO of the council, Hassan Bello, who spoke in an interview recently, hinted that both the council and the ICRC are working out fresh modalities and guidelines that would remove the encumbrances associated with the old system, which has not proved to be efficient.

He noted that part of these encumbrances were associated with the land transactions and other documentations, which he believes are fraught with challenges, adding that the ICRC was not yet created by the government then and so the agreements were not properly structured.

He however disclosed that the council is working with the ICRC to work out fresh guidelines, which would give rise to the signing of new set of agreements to make for a more progressive regime that would eliminate all these encumbrances.

It was further gathered that with the new set of agreements that would steer all the former encumbrances, the council may issue deadlines to the IDP concessionaires to forestall any form of complacency that may further delay the full takeoff of the dry ports.

“You know that only the Kaduna dry port is working, it is primarily because the private sector operators, who won the concession bids have been having issues associated with the land documentations, some of them do not have the financial capability to go on with the project.

“Also remember that they are the ‘guinea pigs’ of Public Private Partnership PPP arrangement in the country even before the creation of the ICRC. But we have steered all these encumbrances for a more progressive regime, which necessitated the signing of the new set of agreements”, Bello said.

While challenging other state governments on the need to support the IDPs located in their states, he argued that the dry port in Kaduna is functioning optimally because of the massive support it is getting from the state government, which he said removed every possible encumbrance the concessionaire would have faced.

In addition to the issues of lack of access to adequate funding by the concessionaires and the encumbrances associated with land documentations, the project has also been bogged down by the high level of insecurity across the country, which remains a clog in their wheel of progress.

Another major challenge is the problem of poor infrastructure, especially the issue of the comatose state of the nation’s rail systems, as the only means of moving consignments from the seaports to the dry ports has remained road transport, further worsened by the poor state of the roads, which have already been over-stretched.