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Two inland dry ports will be ready before July, concessionaires tell ICRC, NSC

The Katsina Inland Dry port and the Dala Inland Dry Port, Kano are to be ready and commence operations before July.

Concessionaires of the two ports declared this during a meeting with the management of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the concessionaires of the six Inland Container Depots (ICDs).

A statement issued on Thursday in Abuja, by Manji Yarling, Acting Head, Media and Publicity of the ICRC said that the meeting was at the instance of the commission.

It was to get the ICDs located in each of the geo-political zones of Nigeria to become operational.

According to it, the ICRC, charged with the responsibility of regulating all government concessions and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), seeks to find solutions to the factors hindering the completion of the dry ports whose contracts were signed since 2006.

Mr Usman Abbas, Managing Director of Equatorial Marine Oil and Gas Limited, concessionaires of the Katsina Dry Port informed the ICRC team that the Funtua port was already at over 85 per cent completion.

He added that it was ready to launch before the end of the second quarter of 2022.

“We hope to commission this project before the end of the second quarter and the ports will become functional immediately.

“We are lucky to have great relationships in the shipping industry and with major shipping lines”, he said.

Mr Ahmed Rabiu, Managing Director, Dala Inland Dry Port Limited, Kano, also hinted that the construction of the container depot was already nearing completion.

He assured that the company was working assiduously to ensure project completion and take off before the end of March.

Mr Michael Ohiani, Acting Director-General of ICRC, said that 16 years after the concession contracts were signed, some of the ICDs were still at five per cent completion while only two had gotten to 55 per cent and 68 per cent, hence the need for the meeting.

“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.

“We are not unaware that at the material time that the contracts were signed, ICRC as a Commission had not been set up, so 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.”

The Commission reminded the concessionaires and NSC that by its Act, it was to take custody of all PPP contracts including the ones for the ICDs.

The concessionaires and states where the ports are located include: Oyo state (Ibadan) with 50,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEUs), by Catamaran Logistics Limited; Abia State (Isiala Ngwa) with 50,000 TEUs by Eastgate Limited; Plateau State (Jos) with 20,000 TEUs by Duncan Maritime Nig. Ltd.

Others are Kano State (Dala) with 20,000 TEUs by Dala Inland Dry Port Ltd.; Katsina State (Funtua) with 10,000 TEUs by Equatorial Marine Oil and Gas Ltd. and Borno state (Maiduguri) with 10,000 TEUs by Migfo Nigeria Ltd.

The statement noted that based on the last assessment presented to the ICRC by the NSC, the percentage progress made by the concessionaires were: Oyo state-10 per cent, Abia- five per cent, Plateau-29.7 per cent, Kano- 55 per cent, Katsina- 68 per cent and Borno- five per cent.

However, the concessionaires told the ICRC that the 16 years journey had been fraught with various challenges which had hampered any progress that could have been recorded.

They complained of poor cooperation from state governments who mostly delay in meeting their own part of the agreement, for instance in the area of land provision.

Another major challenge they emphasised was the lack of narrow gauge rail lines in and out of the dry ports which they said was important to make the operation of the ports efficient.

The statement quoted them as saying that access to funds remained a major issue even as banks and foreign investors made unreasonable demands for assets and bank bonds before the release of funds.

The concessionaires unanimously stressed the need for the ports being constructed to be given the status of port of origin and destination and also to be registered with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) upon completion.

In view of the delay in execution, the concessionaires emphasised the need for a new agreement, pointing out that an agreement started in 2017 between them and the NSC but it was yet to be cleared by the Federal Ministry of Justice on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

They, however, commended the ICRC for its intervention and also appreciated the NSC for their support so far, noting that they were confident that under the present administration the contracts would be sorted out.

The concessionaires pledged their commitment to see the concession to conclusion and the ports operational.

On his part, Mr Jobson Ewalefoh, ICRC’s Director of Contract Compliance Department assured the concessionaires of the continuous support of the commission.

Ewalefoh urged them to send a detailed update of the contract status reports to the ICRC.

He enjoined the other four concessionaires who were yet to make remarkable progress in their contract execution to emulate the milestone recorded by the other two who were finalising their constructions.

This, he said, was so that the ports could yield the economic benefits for which the concessions were granted.

ICRC was established to regulate PPP endeavours of the Federal Government aimed at addressing Nigeria’s physical infrastructure deficit which hampers economic development.

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