By SUNDAY ISUWA, Abuja
Port activities have already taken off in the Kaduna Inland Dry Port, thus making it the first of such in the country. The port mamager Mr Rotimi Oledele Raimi told our correspondent that northern businessmen, importers and exporters as well as their counterparts from Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Central African Republic can now consummate their transactions, using the port.
The port, gazetted on May 26, 2015, is now equipped for port operations and shipping services, international and local logistics, freight and forwarding to the inner reaches of Northern Nigeria and landlocked neighbouring countries of Niger Republic, Chad, and Cameroon.
According to the Nigerian Shippers Council, Kaduna State Chapter, it is expected that about 300, 000 people will get direct jobs from the Kaduna Inland Dry Port in a few years to come.
Our correspondent observes that the port is fully equipped to handle more than 29,000 containers per annum, and agents can legitimately take delivery of their imported cargoes and as well as forward their export goods directly to various countries abroad without hindrances
Already, Nigerian Customs and other relevant agencies now operate at the port having been provided with well-equipped office accommodation within the premises to enhance trade facilitation and reduce turnaround time.
Maritime experts are on ground in the port to provide counseling and consultancy services for import and export business processes and procedures. The dry port has an expansive container terminal, accessible by both rail and road with availability of modern cargo handling equipment and tools to facilitate quick delivery and turnaround time.
Available are large warehouses for cargo storage, export consolidation, stuffing/unstuffing operations and groupage which is fully equipped with a technical workshop, modern examination bay, expansive container terminal, and modern Assycuda systems (for customs). Also available is an expansive trailer park, CCTV cameras, police post, restaurants, sick bay and banking services.
Speaking to our correspondent the president of Nigerian Shippers Council, Kaduna State Chapter, Mohammed Kasali Abdulsalam declared that Kaduna now has a full-fledged port. He was optimistic that activities taking place at the port will transform Kaduna State into a business and commercial hub of the North.
According to Abdulsalam, the business community in Northern Nigeria and nearby countries have received a boost with the huge business potential, provided by the port. He said with the Kaduna Inland Dry Port, there will be greater ease of doing business which will also save cost and time.
“That is a major critical factor in business. For instance, as a shipper, I don’t need to go to Lagos to clear my goods. All I need to do is to inform my suppliers anywhere in the world that the final destination of the goods is Kaduna. So, what you need to do is to just write: Lagos/Kaduna Port. When your consignment reaches Lagos, it would be in transit to the final destination which is Kaduna.
“All they need to do is to come to Kaduna. And we have a lot of cultural, political, trade and even family relationship with the neighbouring countries. So, we will use this platform to call on business communities both in Kaduna, the 19 Northern states as well as the business communities of Chad, Niger Republic, Cameroon, and Central African Republic to make use of the Kaduna Inland Dry Port,” Abdulsalam said.
Abdulsalam projected that apart from government employees that are working in the port, over 300, 000 people will be directly employed within a period of at least five years.
“Three hundred thousand people will be affected directly by this gigantic port within a period of five years. The hospitality business will also be boosted because more restaurants and hotels will be needed,” he said.
The Kaduna Inland Dry Port manager, Rotimi Oledele Raimi said that what finally emerged as Kaduna Inland Dry Port was the Inland Container Nigeria Limited, which the federal government had to upgrade to a dry port.
“Kaduna now has a status of a port,” Raimi said, adding, “ A lot of people especially in the northern part of Nigeria are not aware that this type of port is here in Kaduna where they can access, do business and receive their goods at their door steps.
“I assure importers and exporters in the northern part of the country including countries of Chad, Niger Republic that they can do export and import business in Kaduna.
“I want to implore the people of Kaduna both the importers and the exporters to come down to our office because seeing is believing. They can come down here and forward their exports from here direct to abroad. They should come for more enlightenment. The importers too should come to our office because we are working towards ensuring that instead of them going to Lagos to clear their goods, they can do it in Kaduna.
“The advantages importers are going to enjoy here in Kaduna are enormous but when you import, you must let your shippers know that the consignment is meant for Kaduna as the final destination and you can just sit down here and receive your cargo,” Raimi disclosed.
Henry Gabriel, a Kaduna resident, who has seen what goes on in the port, said he was amazed with what he saw. Gabriel says businesses in Northern Nigeria will be hugely boosted given what goes on in the port.
For Bala Gimba, the opening of the Kaduna Inland Dry Port provides an opportunity for youths who work hard to export their agricultural produce.
According to Gimba, “Kaduna Inland Dry Port has opened up Kaduna State for businesses and investment. The Kaduna port is not meant for the business community in Kaduna alone but for all other northern states as far as Kwara.
“For instance, many people will prefer clearing their goods in Kaduna than Lagos because of the port congestion and other stress of clearing goods. But not only that, you know that we have a lot of countries bordering Northern Nigeria like Chad, Niger Republic, and Cameroon. For those countries, it will be better for them to patronise the Kaduna Port instead of going to Lome, Lagos or Cotonou to clear their goods,” Gimba said.
Executive secretary and chief executive officer of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) Barrister Hassan Bello while on inspection tour of facilities at the port recently, disclosed that the congestion, both vehicular and human, that is common at the nation’s sea ports, would not be seen at the dry port because it would be well controlled.
The NSC boss said that the Kaduna dry port, would be the beehive of economic activities in the state, adding that Kaduna inland port which is the first in the country would become a model for all others that would follow in the country.
He commended the State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai for ensuring security, and enabling employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in Kaduna.
The Council’s boss urged resident of Kaduna state, particularly business men and women to utilise the port effectively to further boost their business prospects, stressing that the dry port will serve both for import and export purposes.
“We are committed to make the port a modern port and in compliance with international standard to ensure proper regulations. We will also ensure that appropriate cargo clearance equipment will be deployed while human and vehicular traffic within the port will be avoided as much as possible,” he said.
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By SUNDAY ISUWA, Abuja