Importers, exporters and the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) have urged the Federal Government to prioritise the provision of scanners and other equipment at the new Inland Dry Port (IDP) in Kakuri, Kaduna State.
They said this became necessary because of the rise in illegal arms import and insecurity in the North.
Speaking with The Nation after the inauguration of the IDP by President Muhammadu Buhari, ANLCA National Publicity Secretary Dr Kayode Farito gave kudos to the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) for championing the establishment of IDPs across the country.
He, however, said the Federal Government and the concession-aire of the dry port must be fast in providing scanners and cargo delivery equipment, adding that non-availability of such equipment would result in the 100 per cent physical examination of cargoes by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Subjecting containers to 100 per cent examination by the Customs at the IDPS, he said, could compromise national security.
Besides, he said the non-provision of scanners and other equipment would affect the government?s Ease of Doing Business policy.
Operators of the Kaduna IDP and others, ANLCA said, must ensure that their equipment were ??automated? to meet the requirements of the Executive Order on Ease of doing Business.
He said automation was necessary to drive the reform in the sector to attract more cargoes to the IDPs.
According to him, automation would enhance efficiency and reduce waste. He added that openness would help the system and process of cargo clearance.
The ANLCA chief said people would be attracted to the inland dry ports with increased volumes of cargo, which would then enhance revenue generation.
The group gave kudos to NSC for introducing initiatives that were in tandem with global best practices to ensure that both sea and inland dry ports remain efficient, transparent and accountable.
NSC, he said, should create a platform that would accommodate all government agencies at the port for easy transaction and assist other agencies and terminal operators to fashion a robust template for operations at the inland ports and the sea ports. Under the new arrangement, revenue leakages, must be blocked while improving operational revenue.
He commended the facility at the Kaduna dry port and urged both the importers and exporters in the north to patronise the dry port.
At the opening of the dry port, President Buhari said the dry port was the first.
He lauded the management of the Shippers Council for initiating the project, urging importers, exporters, seaport terminal operators, clearing agents, haulage drivers and other stakeholders to make use of its world-class facilities.
The dry port is an inland intermodal terminal connected by road, rail and air to a seaport and operate as a centre for trans-shipment of sea cargo to inland destinations.
President Buhari said he was delighted to be at the forum because the port will serve as port of origin for exporters and destination for importers, generate employment, decongest the Lagos port, contribute to the easy of doing business and boost the economy.
With the inauguration of the dry port, the President said, the congestion and gridlock at the Lagos port would be eliminated.
While also commending the Shippers Council for promoting the dry port, Amaechi said the Kaduna dry port was gazetted on May 26, 2015 by the Federal Governmental as a port of origin and port of destination.
The port, he said, was the first port to be licensed to receive cargo from Lagos seaports.
The idea to establish the dry port, he said, was informed by the need to decongest the Lagos ports and provide relief for the busy Apapa road.
He urged shippers from the north to do business at the port, rather of travelling to Lagos, Port Harcourt and Calabar to receive their cargo.
He urged the shippers from Kaduna and other parts of the North to take advantage of the merits at the port for revenue generation and wealth creation.
The port, according to Amaechi, will facilitate delivery of cargo from importers and exporters; fast-track transport development through the hinterland, improves transport infrastructure and decongest the seaports, facilitate cargo delivery to hinterlands and other landlocked Nigeria?s neighbours, such as Chad, Niger, Northern Camerou, and Bukina Faso.
Amaechi said the dry port project was conceived as part of a solution to the problem of hinterland shipers?inadequate access to seaports and frequent congestion.
The minister also said frequent congestion at seaports led to loss of cargo in transit on land mode, urging stakeholders to make use of the facility.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasiru el Rufai, thanked the President for taken off time to open the port, assuring Nigerians that the facility at the port would be put into good use.
The project, he said, was a tripartite arrangement between the Federal, the state and the concession- aire.
In an interview with The Nation, NSC Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer, Mr Hassan Bello said he was happy that President Buhari was in Kaduna to open the world-class project. He lauded the the Kaduna government for the successful upgrading of the bonded terminal to a Inland Dry Port with full status of Port of Origin and final destination.
Another stakeholder, Mr Abulwaheed Onigbanjo, praised the standard of work at the terminal. He called on importers, exporters and other stakeholders to patronise the port.
Also, an importer Sadiq Salau commended the promoters of the dry port.
?In China or Hong Kong, you can have your container released to you in two hours once it arrives the port and this is at a cost equivalent of between N5,000 and N10,000 whereas in our seaports, for your container to be released, it takes several days to weeks and costs several hundreds of thousands of naira or more than a million naira in some cases, despite the government?s effort at reformation.
?In Asia, everything works systematically and you can plan successfully. But here, there are lots of policy somersaults; things are not organised for sustainable growth and most importers in Nigeria find it difficult to cope with this kind of system after experiencing the best way things are done in other countries and that is why we are clamoring that the tariffs at the inland dry ports be made attractive through the deployment of all necessary equipment to facilitate trade,? he said.
One of the promoters of the dry port, Tope Borishade, said the port can handle 29,000 TEU of containers yearly in the first phase and may double it when fully completed.
?It is also estimated to generate 5000 direct employment at the commencement of operation,? Borishade said.