Okechukwu Nnodim and Godwin Isenyo
The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, plans to send a delegation to the Republic of Niger to tell it to start receiving goods at the Kaduna Inland Dry Port instead of using the seaports in Lagos State.
El-Rufai disclosed this on Tuesday while speaking on the sidelines of the ceremony for the commencement of cargo delivery by rail to the Kaduna Inland Dry Port.
He said, “We are very grateful today’s event has opened a new vista of commercial opportunities, not only for northern businessmen but even for our neighbouring countries.
“I intend to send a delegation to the Republic of Niger to sensitise the government of that country on 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.”
According to the governor, the transportation of goods from the dry port and containers from the seaport in Lagos to Kaduna by rail has confirmed that the inland dry port is functioning.
El-Rufai said, “You can ship your goods directly from Kaduna to any part of the world and you can also import goods from any part of the world directly to Kaduna without your containers or any of your goods being opened up for inspection in Lagos.”
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello, said the commencement of cargo delivery by rail at the port would address the challenges faced by importers and exporters and guarantee the seamless movement of cargoes from the seaports in Lagos to Kaduna Inland Dry Port.
On efforts taken to attract investors to use the facility, Bello said, “We are in preliminary discussion with the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council in London and we want to bring them to Kaduna so that they will know what value they can add to the dry port.
“We are talking with the Nigerian Railway Corporation to create more space for associated industries, for it is an industrial hub where things are also processed. We don’t want to be exporting raw materials without having them processed. So, there is also a need to improve on our packaging.”
Bello also noted that the dry port might become a free trade zone, as the council had been engaging with all relevant authorities to achieve the target.
He said, “About 24,000 direct jobs will be created from this project. If we are able to connect the Niger Republic and Chad to use the port as the destination port for their cargoes, it will have a multiplier effect for Kaduna and its environs.
“We can then be able to decongest the ports in Apapa and Tincan Island and we won’t be having the gridlock we are experiencing now. It will take two days for the train to arrive from Lagos to Kaduna because we are using the old track, but we are improving and the movement must improve.”
According to Bello, the rail cargo delivery service currently has about 24 wagons and will bring in about 24 containers on each trip, and this will cut down cargo delivery cost by about 50 per cent.