Lack of Rail Infrastructure, Bane of Inland Dry Ports, Says Shipper’s Council

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Hassan Bello
Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello

Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

The Nigerian Shipper’s Council, has revealed that the success or otherwise of Dry Ports in the country depends on rail connection. It added that lack of adequate rail infrastructure within the dry ports will lead to its death before arrival.

The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, hinted this while speaking to the media at the sidelines of the two-day Sub-Regional Workshop and Joint Standing Committee Meeting of the Union of African Shippers’ Council (UASC) with the theme ‘Port Concession in West and Central Africa: Impact on Economies of Member States’, in Abuja.

Bello, while stating that shipping to Nigerian ports was the most expensive in West Africa, added that, no one should be single out for blame as everyone, from the operators down to the government was culpable.

According to him, “The federal government is working on processes and modalities to drive down the high cost of shipping goods to Nigeria by at least 35 per cent to make its ports efficient and in an attempt to decongest our sea ports, the idea of inland dry port were encouraged.

“But, what we are battling with is the rail connection. Once we have the rail infrastructure, then, we will have true bill of landing. Because, right now, shipping companies, because of the risk of truck transportation they are not issuing true bill of landing. Ministry of Transportation with GE from America and a South African company are considering bringing rail connection to Kaduna Inland Dry Port.”

Bello said: “The Kaduna Inland Dry Port is working perfectly, but what we have is the problem of rail connection. We need rail wagons, so that we will have exclusive transportation of goods from the Seaports to Kaduna.

According to him, the so called diversion of Nigerian bound cargo to other ports is not diversion but a decision of shippers based on high cost and inefficiency at Nigerian ports.

He said: “Yes, Nigerian ports are the most expensive in West Africa. But don’t single out anybody for blame. Don’t single out the terminal operators, don’t single out the shipping companies, don’t single out the freight forwarders and don’t single out the government. All of them are culpable.

He noted that” Because of inefficiency, sometimes, costs are as a result of inefficiency and also some chaos, or some lack of processes or procedures.

“Once we have the single window, once we have the cargo tracking note, these issues will be eliminated and by the nature of that, you will see costs of doing shipping businesses in Nigeria coming down.”

He disclosed that, already, the Nigerian Shipper’s Council is about signing a very important MoU with the shipping companies and these will reduce drastically by about 35% the cost of doing business in Nigeria.

“So, if we perfect our system, we find efficiency, we find competition, because competition drives down the cost, we want the cost of transportation to be minimal part of the cost of production. Right now, the transport cost is very high but, it is our hope that, after the single window, the IACTN, after negotiations with shipping companies, the shipping cost will come down very drastically.”

Continuing, the ES revealed that there was a review of ports concessioning going on. But, Nigeria Shipper’s Council is not participating and Nigeria Shipper’s Council is a representative of so many things. “You cannot have a meaningful input in port concessioning without the Nigerian Shipper’s Council.

“So, I’m aware that the federal ministry of Transportation is looking at this because, one has to consider the interest of all users. This is what happened in the past when the ports concessioning was exclusive. We should operate an open society.

“Those enemies of open society would not succeed in this port concessioning. Shipper’s Council will insist to be part of the port concessioning agreement because the Nigerian Shipper’s Council is a port economic regulator and also a representative of the users and also the providers of the shipping services. You need everyone together.

Speaking on the high cost of shipping businesses in Nigeria, Bello stated that It’s a matter of choice because of the cost. Cost and inefficiency drives shippers away. The long dwell time of cargo also drive away shippers. But we are trying to restore this.”

He however, added that trade facilitation is what will bring cargo to Nigeria.”

Police Parade 19 Suspected Armed Robbers, 11 Cult Suspects in Kwara Hammed Shittu in Ilorin

Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Bolaji Fowora, has paraded a total number of 19 suspected armed robbers and 11 suspected cultists that have been allegedly terrorising the residents of the state in the past few months.

Besides, another syndicate who defrauded unsuspected victims of N4 million with fake currencies within the Ilorin metropolis, were also paraded.

Parading the suspects at the police headquarters in Ilorin, the police commissioner, Mr. Fowora, said the suspects who included a 65- year old- locally-made gun repairer, would soon be charged to court after conclusion of investigations into the cases.

He said some of the communities where the suspected armed robbers operated before their arrest included Ogele, Shao road, Alapata, Kangu-Olunlade, Fate, Water View, and Zango.

He added that some of the exhibits recovered from them were locally made pistols, Dane guns, locally cut to size pistol, battle axes, and criminal charms, parcels of weed suspected to be Indian hemp, electricity transformer’s armoured cables and two Bajaj motorcycles.

The police commissioner while parading a five-member syndicate that allegedly defrauded six victims of about N4million said that the suspects specialised in deceiving innocent commuters with fake foreign currencies after which such victims were defrauded of their monies.

“Their operational vehicle, a Mazda 323 with registration number FUF 646 XA Kwara taxi colour, was also recovered”, He said.

He also paraded one Abubakar Ibrahim, male, of Zango area, for alleged vandalisation of electricity transformer’s armoured cable at Adelodun road, Ilorin on September 11, 2018.

He said, “The suspect and his co-culprits were seen loading vandalised transformer armoured cables on their motorcycle. When the eagle eyed police men on patrol of the area questioned about the armoured cables, they abandoned the motorcycle and their loot and took to their heels. They were given hot chase and the suspect, Abubakar Ibrahim, was arrested. However, the vandalized armoured cables were recovered while effort is being intensified to arrest the fleeing suspects”