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Inland Dry Ports As Incubator For Free Trade Zone.

 Business activities are yet to commence in most places designated as Inland Dry Ports across the country, investigations have revealed, meanwhile it can be a veritable tool and stepping stone for Free Zone development in host areas.
Apart from the Kaduna Dry Port where activities have commenced and that of Jos, where work at the site had reached advanced stage, work had either been abandoned or not commenced in all other sites in Nigeria.
In South-East, work is yet to start at the two sites proposed for the construction of the ports at Ntigha and Obollo Afor in Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area of Abia and Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State, respectively.
In Aba, Abia, the Ntigha port, located on the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, had been overgrown with weeds, with no structure in place.
The state government had in 2017, signed a deal with the Concessionaire, East gate Container Terminal Limited.
The Executive Secretary, NSC, Hassan Bello, had earlier said that the Abia Inland Cargo Dry Port, would ultimately become an export free trade zone, which can create 3,000 jobs opportunities when in operation.
Dry Port in Kaduna (Photo credit: Ships and Ports)
“When fully operational, the port is expected to boost business transactions in the South-East and decongest Onne and Port Harcourt Wharfs,” Bello said.
In Nsukka, the dry port in Obollo Afor in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State is not functional, just as the land hosting the sign-post had been taken over by cow and horse dealers.
A horse seller, who identified himself as Mr Bello Idris, said “We are using this place to sell our horses, as well as hire them to those who want because nobody is using this place.
In Kano, the non-declaration of the Inland Dry Port located in the state as “port of origin and destination,” by the relevant authorities, had stalled its operation, 15 years after its completion.
Alhaji Ahmad Rabi’u, the Chairman of Dala Inland Dry Port Nigeria Limited, Kano, who is the current Commissioner of Commerce and Industry in the state, said work on the port was completed in 2003, but that the facility had remained dormant.
“Dala Inland Dry port is ready to commence commercial activities but is waiting for the declaration of the facility as port of origin and destination for the final technical arrangement and formal take-off.
“In 2003, the Dala Inland Dry port Nigeria limited was awarded responsibility to operate the Kano Dry port and since then, it has passed through different stages of development.
“All the technical arrangements have been concluded, with the exception of the declaration expected to be formalised,” Rabi’u added.
He said the port was constructed under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, with Kano State Government holding 20 per cent equity interest.
According to him, the port will generate a lot of revenue as Kano constitutes between 75 and 80 per cent of Nigerian cargo export.
He said the port would be linked to rail line, and had facilities for storage, consolidation of goods, maintenance for roads and rail cargo carriers, as well as customs clearance services.
Rabi’u, therefore urged the Federal Government to facilitate completion of the processes in view of the economic benefits of the port to the people of the state and the country at large, moreso with the presence of Kano Free Zone and Maigateri Border Free zone that will benefit from its operation.
Also work on Fright Station/Dry Port in in Funtua, Katsina State, which started since September 2014, is progressing at a snail speed and residents are worried that it may be abandoned.
The District Head of Funtua, Alhaji Sambo Idris, is therefore urging the Federal Government to hasten its completion because of its economic importance.
The project was billed to be completed within 30 months of commencement but since then, its cost had risen from the initial N3 billion, to N5 billion.
Under the initial arrangement, Katsina State Government will acquire 10 per cent equity, while the 36 local councils will also have 10 per cent stake, with the equity reserved for Katsina indigenes, to be issued to interested investors.
Meanwhile, some traders in Maiduguri are calling on the Federal Government to expedite work on Borno Dry Port project to fast-track socio- economic development of the state.
Abubakar Kime, another trader, said that the project would stimulate import and export of agricultural produce in the North-East.
 “Dry Port will accelerate importation of manufactured goods and promote exportation of fish, livestock, farm produce, hides and skin.
The situation at the 33-hectares Heipang Inland Container Deport in Plateau is however different as Mr Bawa Peters, Executive Director, DUNCAN Group of Companies, handlers of construction work at the deport, said they were anticipating the creation of 5000 jobs from the project that had reached 70 per cent completion stage.
He appealed to business men in the North to patronise the project when completed, saying that it would save them the massive cost involved in traveling to sea ports to clear their goods.
Peters called on the Federal and Plateau state governments to ensure the construction of a railway line to the terminal.
 “Already, offices for banks, clearing agents, fire service bay and port police post are almost completed; it means we have gone very far,” he said.
Activities are gradually picking up at the Kaduna Dry Port which started operation at the beginning of the year, says the Manager of the port, Mr Rotimi Raimi.
According to him, the general cargo activities being carried out in Lagos seaport are also taking place in Kaduna, adding that they have been getting encouraging inquiries from businessmen on how best to utilise the port.
He said importers in the North now had an alternative of cheaper means of doing business without demurrage, as goods are received within 24 hours.
“Inland Container Depots in the hinterland was informed by the need to reduce the congestion in Lagos and other sea ports and provide ease in doing business in the country.