By Yusuf Babalola
Commercial activities at the Kaduna Inland Container Dryport (ICD) has suffered massive setback as the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) has failed to move cargoes from the Apapa seaports to the dryport, LEADERSHIP investigation has shown.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari on January 2, 2018 officially flagged-off the Kaduna ICD for activities. The Kaduna ICD is the first of its kind in Nigeria created and designed to receive cargoes from Apapa Port in Lagos, through the railway.
The dryport is also designated as port of origin for exports and port of destination for imports. It was also designed to accelerate the implementation of the federal government's economic diversification policy by providing for importers and exporters located within the nation's hinterland, especially industrial and commercial outfits, access to shipping and port services without necessarily visiting the seaports.
But, the motives for the creation of the dryport is greatly under threat as importers now move their cargoes from the port through trucks instead of rail.
Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP, a top management staff of the ICD said the inability of the NRC to move cargoes from the seaport to the ICD has affected operations. The source who craved anonymity said few cargoes they received at the dryport were brought by trucks.
The source also said even though the railway corporation promised to dedicate wagons and locomotives at a stakeholders meeting in Lagos for the exercise, after the commissioning, they are yet to fulfil their promise.
"When we had a stakeholders meeting at Federal Place Hotel, Lagos, the Managing Director of NRC promised that they will dedicate locomotives and wagons but as at now, they have not done their part, but they promise they are working on it.
He stated further that shippers from the Northern part of the country have expressed disappointment over non-functional rail system into the dryport. "Northern Shippers have been coming and asking whether the rail is working and we have told them they will start operations by this quarter. They believe rail is cheaper and safe.
"If we use rail, we have more advantage to attract northern shippers and the dryport has cost leverage compared to what is obtainable in Lagos ports. If we are to entice customers, rail use must be working because, we can use rail for both import and export," he said.
He said: "They have not started moving containers either in or out, but they have promised that before the end of this quarter they will give us locomotives and wagons. The movement of cargoes they did was last year, and that was when they had a wash out but they have concluded the washout. What we need now is wagons and locomotive."
On the impact of the trucking cargoes by road, he said "Since the train is not working, we have been getting cargoes by roads and you know our roads are bad and the best option is the rail even in South Africa that is what is used."
But, speaking to LEADERSHIP in January, managing director of NRC, Engineer Fidet Okhiria disclosed that the corporation would be discussing with the Kaduna ICD management for movement of cargoes in and out of the dryport. "We will be discussing with the Kaduna ICD management and if the goods going to the dryports are readily available, then we are ready to move the cargoes.
"Rail doesn't carry goods in pieces rather, we carry in bulk. We have the wagons and when they are ready they are loaded and not that they will be waiting for Mr. A to bring one cargo or Mr. B to bring in another cargoe, rather it is direct from the shippers to the dryport.
"We believe the containers will be readily available and not one person taking container to Benin, another to Warri but everyone having containers destined for Kaduna dryport being taken on the rail and have it loaded on the wagon and taken to the ICD," he said.