ICRC Bemoans Slow Pace of Work at Inland Container Depots

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James Emejo

The acting Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr. Michael Ohiani has lamented that 16 years after the concession contracts for the six Inland Container Depots (ICDs) located in each of the geo-political zones in the country were signed, some of the assets are still at 5 per cent completion.

He revealed that only two had achieved 55 per cent and 68 per cent completion.
Speaking during a meeting convened with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC)- owners of the project and the concessionaires to address the worrisome development, the ICRC boss pointed out that the engagement became inevitable in order to proffer solutions to the factors hindering the completion of the dry ports whose contracts were signed since 2006.

He said, “We want to rub minds and come up with how we can make progress. What are the challenges taking into consideration that these projects have already gotten Mr. President’s attention and more so, we need to decongest our seaports. Also when completed, these ICDs will bring the required benefit to our citizens and our country Nigeria.”

He explained that at the time that the contracts were signed, ICRC had not been set up adding that, “no proper Outline Business Cases (OBCs) were done for the projects like we now do, but I want us to have a frank discussion so that we can chart a way forward.”

In a statement by the acting Head, Media and Publicity, ICRC, Manji Yarling, Ohiani, he added that by its Act, the ICRC was to take custody of all PPP contracts in the country including the ICDs.

Based on the last assessment presented to the ICRC by the NSC, the percentage progress made by the concessionaires included Oyo State 10 per cent, Abia 5 per cent, Plateau 29.7 per cent, Kano 55 per cent, Katsina 68 per cent and Borno 5 per cent.

According to the concessionaires the 16-year journey had been fraught with various challenges, which had hampered progress that could have been recorded, adding that poor cooperation from state governments who mostly delay in meeting their own part of the agreement, especially in the area of land provision.

Among other things, they also complained of lack of narrow gauge rail lines in and out the dry ports which they noted was important to make the operation of the ports efficient, pointing out that access to funds also remained a major issue even as banks and foreign investors make unreasonable demands for assets and bank bonds before the release of funds.

The concessionaires however commended the commission for its intervention noting that they were confident that under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the contracts will be sorted out.

They also pledged to see the concession to conclusion and the ports operational even as two of the concessionaires, Equatorial Marine Oil and Gas Ltd for the Katsina ports and Dala Inland Dry Port for the Kano Ports declared that their ports will commence operation before the third quarter of 2022.