Importers operating in the country may have spent over N7.26 billion from January till date to move cargoes by road from the Lagos seaports (Apapa and Tin Can ports) to the Kaduna Inland Dry Port, LEADERSHIP investigation has shown.
Findings also showed that the amount spent to haul cargoes to the ICD could have been lower if the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) had made wagons available as about 25 containers leave Lagos ports on daily basis by road and are being transported to Kaduna ICD.
Importers based in the northern states, according to LEADERSHIP findings, spend N30 million daily and N660 million a month to move their containers on articulated long vehicles from Lagos to Kaduna ICD by road. This trucking by road which is very expensive has become a last resort due to the absence of wagons which should have been provided by the Nigerian Railway Corporation.
LEADERSHIP recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari on January 2, 2018 officially flagged-off the Kaduna ICD for activities. The Kaduna ICD is the first of its kind in Nigeria created and designed to receive cargoes from Apapa Port in Lagos, through the railway.
The dryport is also designated as port of origin for exports and port of destination for imports. It was also designed to accelerate the implementation of the federal government’s economic diversification policy by providing for 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.
But, the motives for the creation of the dryport is greatly under threat as importers now move their cargoes from the port through trucks instead of rail. According to LEADERSHIP investigation, an importer pays between N1million to N1.2 million to move cargoes from any of the Lagos seaports to the Kaduna ICD.
Speaking exclusively with our correspondent, deputy president, Dry Cargo of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulahi confirmed that movement of cargoes from Lagos to Kaduna could hover between N1million to N1.2 million per container due to the challenges at the Lagos ports.
Abdulahi said the haulage which used to be N500,000 before the return of the Apapa gridlock has risen to N1.2 million. He said, “Two weeks ago, 40ft containers which is about 35 tons to Kaduna ICD from Lagos was N1.2 million but now it’s about N1 million and could go up at any time. Before the gridlock, it was about N450,000 to N500,000 to Kaduna but the gridlock has worsened everything,” he told LEADERSHIP.
Also, managing director of the Inland Container Nigeria Limited (ICNL), the promoter of the Kaduna ICD, Yusuf Ismail described non-functioning of the rail track as a setback for the project.
“The purpose of establishing all Inland Container Depots is to have these railway lines to the dry port so that the cost of transportation will be cheaper and will be better for the users of the port.
“But presently since the rail is not working we are forced to be using road and you know the condition of roads in Nigeria, we have lots of bad roads everywhere and cost of transportation has increased, cost of diesel has gone up. So, definitely where you are supposed to spend N400, 000 for a 40 foot container, you end up spending N800, 000 or more so that is the limiting factor,” the managing director lamented.
Also speaking to LEADERSHIP, a top management staff of the Kaduna ICD had complained that the inability of the NRC to move cargoes from the seaport to the ICD has affected operations. The source who craved anonymity said few cargoes they received at the dryport since the commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari were still being brought by trucks.
The source also said even though the railway corporation promised to dedicate wagons and locomotives at a stakeholders meeting in Lagos for the exercise, after the commissioning, they are yet to fulfil their promise.
“When we had a stakeholders meeting at Federal Place Hotel, Lagos, the Managing Director of NRC promised that they will dedicate locomotives and wagons before the end of second quarter but we are a month away from the end of the last quarter yet they have not done their part, but they said they are working on it.”
He stated further that shippers from the Northern part of the country have expressed disappointment over non-functional rail system into the dryport. “Northern Shippers have been coming and asking whether the rail is working and we have told them they will start operations by this quarter. They believe rail is cheaper and safe.