Expectations are high that the Jos and Funtua dry ports estimated at about N16.7 billion will soon be ready for inauguration and contribute significantly to the economy of Northern states.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, who raised the hope on completion of the two projects – Jos Inland Dry Port in Plateau State, and Funtua Inland Dry Port in Katsina State, said they will be ready between December this year and January 2020.
The Concessionaire of the Funtua Port had earlier said over $20 million (N7.2 billion) would be needed to get the port operational within a year, while the operator of the Jos Port said the project would gulp about N9.5 billion and that work at the site has reached advanced stage.
Bello said: “We have up till December to bring on board Funtua and Jos dry ports. Two weeks ago, we had meetings with them, and we gave them the timeline for us to work so we see things are done.”
Bello also said a lot of progress is being made at the Kaduna dry port, adding that the issue remains the slow movement of containers from the seaports to the dry ports through rail.
He said: “I’m worried about the capacity of the railway. Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) now takes containers from Lagos to Kaduna, where they are examined. Of course, because it is a narrow gauge, we are worried about the speed, which is 60KPH – that is the average.
“I’m also worried about derailment. We need frequency and certainty so that we can schedule that in every two days, it will take about 40 containers. They are overwhelmed in Kaduna. Many shippers have come, companies like Nokako in Kaduna, Orland Farms. They want to use Kaduna, but for the capacity of the rail.”
He however assured that every agency of government has shown commitment to the success of the dry port, adding that Kaduna is witnessing a lot of export growth because of the dry port.
He said: “Export has grown in Kaduna. Cow horn, ginger, and hibiscus are being exported through Kaduna. So what Shippers’ Council is trying to do is to acquire the land adjacent to the Kaduna dry port so that we have it for processing.
“We don’t want these raw materials to be exported. We want ginger to be processed and packaged so that there will be value addition. This will mean employment for people. We want Zobo to be processed and packaged. We have been working with the Ministry of Finance to have a pre-inspection agency so that when we do, immediately this is done, the ship is waiting because of schedules and train will take these things. So more exports will be done; Kaduna will be a success story, especially with the rail coming on board.
“And then we are looking at Kano, which unfortunately has not been able to do anything. But we are into it. The moment we do that we will decongest the seaports, and we bring shipping closer to the people, and we grow the economies where these dry ports are sited.
“I’m happy with what is happening in Kaduna, I’m happy with the regulators – Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Customs, and many others who recognised Kaduna and they are doing business there,” he said.