‘Truck transit park, NNPC partnership critical to ICD operations’
TRUCK Transit Park’s (TTP) partnership with Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is crucial to the operations of Kaduna Inland Container Depot (ICD), Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello has said.
The Federal Government through gazette No. 60 volume 102 of May 26th, 2015, recently approved Kaduna ICD as a port of origin and final destination.
According to Bello, the ICD and the TTP projects were conceived to facilitate efficient cargo delivery to Nigeria’s hinterland importers and exporters, provide access to port services, stimulate economic development, boost export of agricultural commodity, provide employment opportunities and increase revenue generation for the state.
He explained that arrangements have been concluded to invite NNPC to solicite support for partnership in the project, pointing out “The partnership will entail investments in construction of mega fuel stations, technical and safety standard for oil tanker trucks at the park in line with international standards” Bello explained that the project would be executed on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, “whereby the host state governments undertake the obligation to provide the land as well as infrastructure including access road, electricity, and water supply.
Bello said: “We believe this will provide opportunities for Direct Foreign Investments (DFI) in the development of the parks in the country and would open a major source of employment opportunities and boost the internally generated revenue for the state governments”.
In a position paper on the Kaduna ICD, addressed to the State Governor, Mallam Nasir el Rufai, Bello called on the state government to hasten the constitution of the state’s ICD implementation committee and “explore areas of collaboration for stakeholders sensitisation and mobilise for adequate utilisation of the Dry Port amongst existing and prospective shippers in the state”.
He explained that the Council is interested in the development of a TTP in Kaduna State. “TTP is a modern state of the art facility designed to provide temporary rest location where truck drivers can conveniently park their vehicles in a healthy environment, get accommodation, fuel, food, drinks, rest rooms, showers and other basic supplies like oil and spare- parts as well as servicing of their vehicles”.
Explaining further, Bello said the report of a feasibility study conducted on the project nationwide has identified Mararraban Jos amongst the most ideal and viable location.
He said: “The centrality of Kaduna State and its strategic location along the Lagos-Kano – Jibia (LAKAJI) Corridor with artery for high duty vehicles provide greater opportunity for the project to be established in the state.
However, the implementation of this project is still at preliminary stage and against this background a request for the allocation of a suitable land at Mararraban Jos for about forty five (45) Hectares was forwarded to the state government by the management of Nigerian Shippers’ Council along with the layout plan and the model designs to enable the state government appreciate the concept of the project. “A follow up meeting with officials of the state ministry of Lands was held with a high prospect of securing the land to actualise the project”, Bello added.
He said the Federal Government’s Inland Dry Port Project was conceived as part of the government’s reform programme in the transport sector, ‘designed to decongest the seaports and bring shipping and ports services closer to importers and exporters in the hinterland’.
He explained that in March 2006, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) granted approval for the establishment of Inland Container Depots using the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model for a period ranging from 25 (twenty-five) to 30 (thirty) years.
According to Bello, lCD project has direct benefits in the following areas: *Boost export activities through production of cash crops thereby revitalizing the agricultural sector and consequently reducing overdependence on oil; *Encourage the establishment of agro-allied Industries for the export of semi-processed and manufactured agricultural products; *Contribute in the reduction of transportation and transaction cost; *Attraction of various infrastructural and regional developmental projects; *Creation of employment opportunities and related socioeconomic services and *Improve the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the state governments, among others.
These projects, the NSC boss pointed out were at various level of construction before suspension of work due to concessionaires clamour for the declaration of the Inland Container Depots with the status of ports of origin for exports and ports of final destination for imports.
However, he said considering the enormous socio-economic benefits of the project to the nation, efforts are being made to surmount these challenges soonest to move the project forward.
Bello explained that it is pertinent to further inform the State Governor that the idea to bring the Dry Port project to Kaduna State was initiated by the state government in 2008 when it expressed its desire to enter into a joint venture with Inland Containers Nigeria Limited (ICNL) to run the Kaduna Bonded Terminal.
Bello said: “To give effect to the partnership plan, the state government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (M0U) with ICNL in September 2009 in which it planned to acquire about 20% (twenty per cent) equity of the company.
Furthermore, the state government requested the Minister of Transport to upgrade the Kaduna Bonded Terminal to an Inland Container Depot to facilitate efficient cargo delivery to importers and exporters in the state.
Your Excellency may wish to note that as the implementation agency for the Dry Ports project, our Council worked assiduously to actualize the Kaduna project. We have closely supervised the upgrade works undertaken by ICNL to the required standards recommended by the Technical Committee for the upgrade of Kaduna Bonded Terminal constituted by the Federal Ministry of Transport.
This supervision was carried out with active participation of representatives of the state ministries of Commerce and Works and Housing in the monthly site meetings during the upgrade period. “It is my pleasure therefore, to commend the state government for its active support in the successful upgrade of the Bonded Terminal leading to its gazetting as an Inland Dry Port with full status of port of origin and final destination. “With this declaration order, Kaduna has surpassed the rest and became the first Inland Dry Port in Nigeria.
This laudable achievement came at the eve of your administration and we have the confidence that all efforts would be made to support the Federal Government in actualising the benefits of the project to the business community in the state and its environs’.
The newly designated port with the capacity to handle 29,000 containers per annum, according to the gazette, shall be a Customs port in accordance with the provisions of the Customs and Exercise Management Act, Cap. C 45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2014. It is expected that the Kaduna Inland Dry Port would have all the Pre-requisites of an international port including Customs, Immigration, port health officials and government security agencies.
The other approved ICD/CFS in the country that are yet to be designated as port of origin and final destination are located in Ibadan. Kano, Jos, Aba, Funtua and Maiduguri. Also speaking on benefits of the initiatives, NSC’s Director, Commercial Shipping Services, Mrs Dabney Shall-Holma said the availability of railline would boost operations at the facility.
Shall-Holma said NSC is collaborating with the management of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), adding “We recently paid the Comptroller General a coutesy visit”.
Bello explained that seaports would serve as transit point for cargoes meant for the ICDs, pointing out that the policy is expected to promote and project efficiency in cargo evaquations.
Bello said: “The ICD will boost the economy of their host community because of the expected emergence of ancillary services that will generate thousands of employment in the areas. There will be improved train transportation because we intend to move containers to the inland ports with train.
There will be businesses for warehouse owners, there will be other services as industries and industrial clusters will spring up in the area to generate employment. At the end, it will be a catalyst for economic growth of the areas where they are located. Nigeria will have proper sea ports that will only serve as transit for consignment against the present practice of using them as storage facilities.”
Bello had recently commenced series of meetings with stakeholders in the sector especially service prividers and other government agencies aimed at sanitising the industry. According to Bello, the initiative is aimed at expanding the negotiation table and space in the interest of all parties.
Bello said: “We have found out that in our policy, we will really need to consult with our partners and stakeholders and players in the industry.
Every decision one will make as a regulator, we want to democratise it, that is play it with the partners and get their buy-in. It is very important that policies are honest and predictable. You cannot come and change a policy at a go without consultation.
That will make for bad regulation. So, we have been consulting, we have been meeting with stakeholders. “We have gone to terminal operators.
We listened to their complaints and we know that we are taking their complaints to the government. Government has responsibility to provide conducive atmosphere for their operations.
It is glaring that some of them are operating under very hard conditions and I think, it is not a good thing, especially as it added cost to many things at the ports, which is affecting so many things. “We also want to bring the complaints we have gotten from the users of their services to their knowledge.
One is the complaint in the delay of the process of cargo clearance. We want them to attain 70-80 percent clearance of goods from the ports. They should take them to off-dock terminals.
Port is a transient place and that will reduce the dwell time of cargo. “We don’t want cargo to stay more than one day necessary at the ports. We also have to encourage them to embrace automation and technology. We have to have them register with us.
They are in the process of registering with us so that we can take their problems to the government. “We are advisers to government in the ports and government will have a roadmap where it can intervene”.
He said now that Kaduna is an Inland port; stakeholders will see a lot of movement of cargo off- dock. “So, we don’t have congestion, the shipper will not pay demurrage, rent and demurrage are not common in other climate. It is only known in Nigeria. If we eliminate that, we will see shipping cost coming down.
Besides, we are on agitation for technology and automation. If we use technology and automation, many of these things will disappear automatically.
On alleged malpractices on the part of shippers, Bello said: “We are concerned. Customs is worried too. Somebody pointed to me that 80 percent of shippers are non-compliant, that means there is under-declaration, false declaration.
We are in the next two weeks going to have it as a national dialogue with the Customs and the freight forwarders who are the agents of the shippers and the shippers to be compliant. Non-compliance brings so much delay. That is why you have 100 percent examination.
If they are compliant, the risk assessment of the customs will fasten clearance at the port. Non-compliance is a revenue leakage. It causes so much delay in clearance.
There are relevant provisions in CEMA that punishes under-declaration and non-compliance, and we are all going to discuss that with a view to having more compliance as we go on”.