Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The federal government on Tuesday, stated that with the commencement of cargo delivery by rail to the Kaduna Inland Dry Port, a new vista of commercial opportunities had been opened not only for Northern businessmen, but also neighbouring countries.
Government, through the Minister of Transportation, Mr.Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, gave the hint while flagging off the commencement of cargo delivery by rail to the Kaduna Inland Dry Port in Kakuri, Kaduna state.
According to him, “The progressive effort of the present administration in rail rehabilitation and construction was aimed at ensuring effective intermodal transport connectivity nationwide.
Amaechi, noted that the Dry Port will greatly provide the needed stimulus for massive economic growth in Kaduna state and the country at large.
“The inland ports would not only reduce transport costs but also bring shipping to the door steps of shippers as it will also stimulate economic growth and prosperity.”
The minister, represented by the Director of Service, Ministry of Transportation, Sani Galadanci, noted that, dry ports are transport infrastructure projects promoted by the ministry and Nigeria Shippers Council as part of the solutions to problems faced by hinterland shippers.
He said: “Today’s event has opened a new vista of commercial opportunities not only for Northern businessmen, but also neighbouring countries.
“The dry port will also address the problems of inadequate access to sea ports, remove frequent congestion which resulted in the loss of cargo on transit, carnage and accident on the land mode.”
He however, called for collaboration among all stakeholders to ensure success.
Similarly, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, during the flag off, informed that the Council was yet to finalise the actual cost of freight forwarding by rail. But, he is sure that the cost would be half of the current price.
Bello noted that, following the commencement of rail operations at the Kaduna dry port, cargo delivery services to northern part of the country may be slashed by 50 percent.
He said: “Usually, freight transportation by road from Lagos seaport to Kaduna Cost about N700,000 – N1million. however the flag off of rail operations at the dry port, would among other things reduce transportation cost, ease cargo clearance and also remove the cost of demurrage.”
He said the the train has about 24 wagons with the capability to carry an average of 24 containers. He added that the federal government has been working assiduously to increase the number of wagons so as to increase the number of containers being transported through rail.
“The train is scheduled to move twice in a week from Lagos-Kaduna-Lagos, which he attributed to the usage of old tracks adding that activities would further improve as time goes on.
“About 24,000 direct jobs would be created and we are in talks with the Niger Republic and Chad to make the Kaduna dry port their port of destination which would further boost economic activities and create more jobs.
To further attract investors to the dry port, the ES hinted that they are in talks with Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council in London as they intend to invite them to visit the dry port so that they can invest in the port.
Speaking in similar vein, The Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El Rural, in his remark, observed that the significance of the Kaduna Dry port is that, goods can be exported and imported in and out of Kaduna inland dry port without the containers being opened up for inspection in Lagos.
The governor disclosed plans to send delegation to the Republic of Niger to sensitise the government of that country of the opportunities of receiving their goods in Kaduna instead of Lagos and having to truck them as well as any of their exports from Kaduna port to any part of the world.
El Rufai reiterated the commitment of the Kaduna State government to the project adding that, “This is a great opportunity; it will create jobs for our young people, it will expand business opportunities and also lower the cost of doing business for our business men here in Nigeria as well as lower the cost of agricultural products in southern Nigeria. So, it is a great day. I am very happy”