President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, warned the Nigeria Customs Service and port officials against frustrating the effective use of the facilities of Kaduna Dry Port and the six other Inland Dry Ports across the country.
Inaugurating the facilities in Kaduna, President Buhari said the Customs and port officials must make the facilities work and not to frustrate business, commercial and industrial enterprises with unnecessary bureaucracy. “It remains for Customs and ports officials to make these facilities work and not to frustrate business, commercial and industrial enterprises with unnecessary bureaucracy and inflicting on them, delays and hardships, thereby defeating the object of the whole exercise as has happened in the past. “Make these facilities work this time,’’ he stressed. According to him, the hinterland business community has waited for too long for such facility that has tremendous potentials to ease the way of doing international business for the interior based importers and exporters. He said that the development of Inland Dry Ports was an important factor in the nation’s economic development efforts. “As ports of origin for exports and ports of destination for imports, the Inland Dry Ports will accelerate the implementation of our economic diversification policy. “The concept of Inland Dry Port has gained widespread importance with the changes in international transportation as a result of the container revolution and the introduction of door-to-door delivery of cargo. “It provides 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. “It also enables them to process clearance of their import cargo and take delivery of their raw materials and machinery close to their places of business.’’ President Buhari also said that the Dry Ports would provide exporters the much needed facilities to process, package, consolidate and forward their exports to their customers all over the world without having to physically be at the seaports. According to him, this replicates the port economy in the various centres where Dry Ports are located inland thereby generating employment and contributing to the ease of doing business. He said in addition to the Kaduna Inland Dry Port, six other Inland Dry Ports in Ibadan, Aba, Kano, Jos, Funtua and Maiduguri, which had also been gazetted, were at various stages of completion. He congratulated the Kaduna State government, the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Nigerian Shippers’ Council as well as the hinterland importers and exporters on the inauguration of the facilities. The president also commended the initiative of Nigerian Shippers’ Council towards promoting the provision of these modern transport infrastructural facilities. He, however, urged the concessionaires of the other six Dry Ports to emulate the concessionaires of the Kaduna Dry Port by accelerating work on theirs so as to ensure speedy completion of the projects. He said that with the full complement of the seven Dry Ports, congestion at the seaport and traffic gridlock in the port complex would be eliminated. “Consequently, the cost of transportation and cost of doing business will be reduced,’’ he said. He lauded the efforts of the Kaduna State government for facilitating the establishment of Kaduna Inland Dry Port. According to him, the provision of access roads and other utilities to the Dry Port by Kaduna State government is worthy of emulation by the other Dry Ports host state governments. He urged relevant stakeholders across the public and private sectors, particularly Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Railway Corporation, shipping companies and agencies, Seaport terminal operators, clearing and forwarding agents, road haulers and importers and exporters to utilise the facility optimally. FG Committed To Linking Major Cities With Rail President Muhammadu Buhari has said the federal government is committed to linking all major commercial cities and production centres with rail for rapid social economic development, improve the quality of life of the citizens and national integration. The president, who stated this at the commissioning of the 10 new rail coaches and two locomotives in Kaduna yesterday, said it is not just a statement of intent but a benchmark for measuring the performance of the administration and solicited for the support of the National Assembly, development partners and relevant stakeholders to achieve this aim. This is even as the minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has said about $36 billion to $40 billion is needed to complete effective rail system in Nigeria. According to the minister, “We will do everything possible to ensure that we complete the Lagos-Ibadan railway. We are already negotiating with contractors that will fund the project. If we are able to complete the arrangements, again, taking into consideration, the Nigeria law, we will start many of so many rail projects this year. That will include many of them. We need between $36 billion to $40 billion. Only God knows where we are going to get it, but I like to apply what I did as Rivers State governor. When there is a project, we put on the table how much we have, we will just award the contract believing that God will do it for us. You will say that it is naive but at the end of the day, we got the money to pay the constructors.” Speaking at the event, President Buhari said “I’m glad that this service has become very useful for commuters and would soon become the preferred means of transport for the journey from Abuja to Kaduna. “I reiterate government’s commitment to linking all major commercial and production centres by rail for rapid social economic development and improving the quality of life of the citizens and improving national integration. “It’s not just a statement of intent but a benchmark for measuring the performance of the administration, and hence, I am soliciting the support of the National Assembly, development partners and relevant stakeholders to achieve this aim.” The president restated his resolve to vigorously pursue railway development in Nigeria through the implementation of the 25 year strategic railway master plan. He stated that government would further focus on costal rail like Lagos-Calabar with branches to Benin, Agbor and Onitsha, including Port Harcourt to Maiduguri and standard guage rail line with branches to Owerri, Akwa, Abakaliki, Yola and Damaturu. He added that his government would also focus on Kano-Kazure , Daura, Kastina, Jibya to link to Maradi in Niger Republic as part of regional railway inter-connectivity of the ECOWAS sub-region. He said that other supporting projects that have been approved is the procurement of more locomotives, coaches, wagons, workshops and equipment that would be used for standard guage lines. The president also noted that to encourage private sector’s participation in the development of the railway development, negotiations was on for the concessioning of the narrow guage rails with a consortium, General Electric. On the commissioning of the new coaches, the minister said, “I feel very elated and I thank the president for his support and I hope I don’t disappoint him and Nigerians. It gives me a new lease of life because after all we did in Rivers, one young man woke up and said we did not do anything. This gives me another opportunity to prove that you have worked for the people and that you are compelled by the circumstances of the fact that Nigerians and the president thought that we could deliver in the mandate given to the president which was transferred to me as the minister. “I have said that we don’t have enough coaches but now, we have four locomotives, 14 coaches. We now have enough to do Abuja-Kaduna non- stop. We have trains that can stop at every station and that will increase the efficiency.” The minister, however, denied being under pressure to carry out his duties, noting that “I wish you know me very well. When I get to my bed and start reading, before you know it, I am asleep. The next time I will wake should be around 3am. I don’t think I am under any pressure. Once he provides the money, you will know that I have the capacity.”muse. ( Leadership)