History was made on Wednesday March 8, 2017 in Aba when the First Inland Container Depot (ICD), otherwise called Dry Port, to be established anywhere across the Niger became a reality. Before the coming of Ntigha, Isiala Ngwa ICD with a capacity of 50,000 TEUs, was that of Kaduna which has become functional and is now Port of Destination while work is ongoing in the Heipang ICD in Plateau State.
Container Depots are inland intermodal terminals directly connected by road or rail to a seaport and operating as a centre for the trans-shipment of sea cargo to inland destination.
The project which is facilitated by Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Port Economic Regulator, is to be implemented under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement. In this vein, the onus lies on the private sector to develop, equip and operate the terminal while Nigerian Shippers’ Council’s role is to ensure strict supervision and monitoring so as to maintain an acceptable global standard. The ICD is, therefore, designed to critically address the intermodal transport connectivity problems faced by hinterland shippers, be they industrialists, agro-processing industries, raw material importers or exporters. In fact, it is essentially designed to ease flow of trade among nations.
The Federal Government is today facing a lot of challenges in its strive to unbundle the economy. The issue of sustaining the current drive in order to allow the growth process to percolate and positively impact on the citizenry demands meticulous planning and integrated implementation efforts by the government and its agencies.
The current drive by the minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to ensure successful implementation of a functional intermodal, efficiently run transportation network in Nigeria cannot be over emphasised. As at today, Nigeria’s economy is maritime driven, hence the minister is not only throwing his hat in the ring but also putting the heads of his agencies on their toes to ensure that the engine is humming well.
To demonstrate his commitment towards opening up of the transport network, the minister has signed an agreement with GE and China Railway Corporation for the execution of East-west Rail line, the Port-Harcourt, Aba, Benue to Kaduna and Kano-Lagos route as part of measures to link the sea ports to the ICDs.
Corroborating the above, the executive secretary of Nigerian Shipper’s Council, Barrister Hassan Bello, who represented the minister at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding during a ceremony at Governor’s Lodge, Aba, Abia State noted that the goal of the federal government is to increase productivity and also improve performance and efficiency in the value chain.
The new country’s investment goal is to attract foreign investment into the country. But in doing so, we must change our way of doing business, be accountable, transparent with sound ethical government sector behaviour which will, to a large extent, open-up our business frontiers as the Canadians are here to share in our industrial growth.
“And once the Canadians succeed in this investment, the BRJ Consortium will contribute to promoting our international reputation while paving way for new international investors to come into Nigerian,” Bello added.
Enumerating the benefits of the Inland Container Depot as a rewarding platform to decongest the sea ports as volume trade increases, Bello stated that ICDs provide quick and safe access to port facilities from inland transport networks. It facilitates door to door delivery of cargo to and from importers and exporters. It affords optimal use of road and rail transportation services and most importantly, it creates employment opportunities within its corridor thereby discouraging youth restiveness while also encouraging development of small and medium scale enterprises.
Bello pointed out that once the Ntigha ICD becomes functional, the tempo of economic activities in the South-East, South-South extending to Benue will witness a dramatic economic turnaround. Aba, Enyimba City, is noted for its doggedness and resilience to succeed where others hate to invest. They are ingenious, enterprising and industrious and this accounts for why the Ntigha ICD is domain along the Rail track of Abia State.”
On his part, the excited governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, Apostle of Made in Nigeria Products promised to provide all necessary basic infrastructure that will aid the smooth take off of the Ntigha ICD.
The governor thanked Amaechi for walking the talk and for ensuring that our transportation network is unbundled for the greater good of the people.
He equally congratulated the East Gate Nig. Ltd that is leading the consortium of BRJ of Canada for the project. “Once the ICD is put to functional use, Nigerians will see the next level of a state imbibed with talent, entrepreneurship and self-sustaining efforts to grow the economy”, Ikpeazu emphasised.
“The state needs to provide some public spectacles in addition to making sure that some people’s basic needs are met so as to hit the ground running. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the ICD will drive Abia into the club of emerging economies that will project the image of Nigeria as a country with enormous potentials”.
Commenting on the economic potentials that endeared them to Nigeria, Mr. Bonnie James, managing partner BRJ of Canada, said that the country has tremendous resources both in manpower and natural resources. The goodwill is also there but urged the Federal Government to reduce the harsh economic environment facing investors in Nigeria.
He promised that his consortium which is a global brand will deliver on its promises and will build a world Class Dry Port that will be envy of others.
– Nwamadi contributed this piece from Aba.