The Federal Government has been urged to link the Lagos seaports, six approved Inland Dry Ports (IDPs) and the proposed Truck Transit Parks (TTPs) with rail.
Stakeholders who spoke with The Nation on the sideline of a breakfast meeting organised by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMoT), in Lagos, said the government needed to link the IDPs and the TTPs with rail to complement the efforts of the NSC in promoting investment in the projects across the country.
The theme of the event was: Financing Transport Infrastructure, Inland Dry Ports and Truck Transit Parks.
The IDPs were designed by the NSC as ports of origin for exports, and destination for imports and to ease transportation of cargoes from the seaports to the hinterland and even landlocked neighbouring countries through adequate funding.
Also, the proposed establishment of the TTPs by the NSC through the private sector, stakeholders said, also needs the support of the federal, state and local governments for it to be financed adequately since road transport accounts for over 90 per cent of all freight and passenger movement in the country.
The TTPs and IDPs are being promoted by the NSC and will be built, managed and owned by private investors.
One of the stakeholders, Mr Segun Oladipupo, decried the movement of goods from Lagos seaports to various parts of the country by trucks.
He said ICDs and TTPs will be more effective if they are linked by rail.
Oladipupo added that an effective rail system would ease the movement of goods and persons from Lagos ports to other parts of the country and decongest the ports, whose facilities and link roads had been overstretched.
Also, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) said it was happy that the NSC came up with the initiative of constructing TTPs and IDPs.
Its National Public Relation Officer (PRO), Dr Kayode Farinto, said the initiative was well conceived and urged stakeholders to support the projects.
“Aside from creating more job for Nigerians, the linkage will increase the cargo throughput (imports and exports) of the ports and make it attractive for business.
“The IDPs will be to the advantage of Nigerian importers and exporters if they receive cargo directly from bigger vessels. But the problem on our roads will continue if the government fails to link the two facilities by rail,’’ Oladipupo said.
Meanwhile, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Prof Wole Soyinka and others praised NSC Executive Secretary Mr Hassan Bello for bringing to the front burner investment opportunities in the two projects.
Speaking at the breakfast meeting, Prof Osinbajo, who was represented by his Senior Adviser on Infrastructure, Mr Kolade Sofolahan, said the nfrastructure deficit presented opportunities that must be tapped.
“We have infrastructural oppor-tunities not a problem in Nigeria. It’s a huge opportunity that everyone should come together to develop a strategy to take advantage of. It is described as crisis, problem but I see it as an opportunity. We have to think about how to grow our roads, TTP and IDP in a way that it is integrated to diversify our economy,” Osinbajo said.
Shippers Council, the Vice President said, deserves commen-dation because adequate financing and development of the ICDs and TTPs will create employment and boost the economy.
The Federal Government, Prof Osinbajo said, is determined to create a conducive environment for business to thrive, urging local and foreign investors to tap into the ICDs and TTPs financing.
Nigeria, Osinbajo insisted, does not have infrastructure deficit but opportunities to be tapped by various investors.
Nobel Laurate Prof Wole Soyinka also praised the Council for bringing the government, investors and stakeholders together to address the problems confronting the transportation sector of the economy.
Soyinka criticised the poor state of troads and called on federal, state and local governments to pay adequate attention to roads.
“If only it were a mask, a mere carnivalesque costume of macabre design donned by a nation intoxicated by the oil boom, Carcasses of dogs, sheep, goats and chickens, even the occasional cow, or the piles of merchandise strew prodigally on kerbsides, rooting farm produce mashed into the tar, fibre baskets violently ripped open from impact, night and day, and the tell-tale sight of unpaired shoes, stained caps, a necklace, watch or bangle, a floral wrapper and the patches of caked blood, even morsels of human flesh, overlooked or simply ignored-this had become the daily visage of the Nigerian road.
“How is it possible that day after day, human conveyances, seeing what has gone on before, with all the evidence around them, continue to get sucked into these orifices and armpits of the earth till the very air reeks with carrion. The answer is not hidden, it is loudly propagated in the very conduct of those in whose charge so much humanity is repeatedly entrusted,” Soyinka said.
He also flayed motorists whom he accused of not being ready to learn and observe protocols while using the roads.
The Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, said the Federal Government was focusing on linking the various transport modes to strengthen intermodal transport of goods and passengers.
“Government has approved the concession and the establishment of six Inland Container Depots across the geo-political zones at Erummu, Ibadan in South West, Isiala-Ngwa,Aba in the South East, Funtua, in Katsina and Zawachiki, Kano in the North West, Heipang, Jos in North Central and Jauri, Maiduguri in North East.
“These projects are at various stages of construction. Construc-tion work at the recently conces-sion Kaduna ICNL dry port has been completed and are awaiting inauguration to commence operations.” Amaechi said.
To facilitate the speedy delivery of TTPs, Amaechi said, feasibility study has been conducted for their establishment at Lokoja, Obollo-Afor, Ogere, Jebba, Port Novo creek and Umunede.
“These locations and other to be identified from time to time in addition to the Ore Sunshine City and the ones being planned by the Kaduna State Government are alternative strategies to address the menance of truck congestion at the seaports and the indiscrimminate parking on road corridors across the country.
The Minister added that the ICDs have been designated as consoli-dation centres for export of non-oil agricultural commodities and solid minerals products.
“I intend to very soon direct the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to open talks with the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) to obtain export pro-cessing zone status for the ICDs.”In the ICDS, there are great opportunities for investments, added values including ware-housing, commodity processing, packaging among others,” he said.