From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
A year and two months after it was commissioned with a lot of glitz, high operational cost due to inadequate infrastructure and incidental costs have kept shippers from the Kaduna Dry Port and ensured that the multi-billion naira facility remained dry of business activities.
Explaining shippers’ lack of zeal to utilise the nation’s first modern Inland Container Depot (ICD), President of the Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS), Rev. Jonathan Nicol, disclosed that high cost of road haulage of containers from the Lagos ports to the facility was discouraging.
According to him, the facility has no business advantage over the status quo because in the absence of direct rail system, the transfer of containers from Lagos port to Kaduna by road, in addition to incidental logistics, is quite expensive and discouraging.
“To transfer containers from Lagos to Kaduna by road is expensive,” Nicol said. “Even the local cost at a time was N1 million for a container, and it does not end with that because the importer will have to go there, perform all the normal (clearance) processes and then ferry the containers to his/her warehouse.
“These are some of the reasons that importers are not ready to use the Kaduna Inland Dry Port. It is better for them to clear their containers at the ports in Lagos and ferry them straight to the hinterland.”
He regretted that the Federal Government has failed to encourage shippers, in line with the executive order on the ease of doing business, by not building requisite infrastructures in the sector.
According to him, such inadequacies would be handled by a maritime ministry, if created, as it would be in a better position to handle the challenges arising from negligence of the sector.
“The establishment of a maritime ministry would lessen the burden on the Ministry of Transportation and is key for shippers to bring in more vessels,” he stated. “Though the (transport) ministry is doing its best, the ports can function better under a ministry of maritime.”
Nicol further lamented the steady somersault in government policies, including the continuous appointment of non-knowledgeable and non-professional hands as chief executive officers of the maritime agencies, who only spend time learning on the job only to be dropped soon after for political reasons.