BY ABDULLAHI YAKUBU |
The idea behind the establishment of the Dala Inland Dry Port was initiated by the federal government under the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration 20 years ago with the aim of boosting commercial activities in Kano State, the next commercial nerve centre in Nigeria after Lagos.
Based on the arrangement between the federal and state governments, construction of the dry port would be done in stages with each tier handling a particular project but since then neither government performed its obligations.
That is why the port ran into a number of problems since inception in May 2006 when the concession was signed.
The sluggish work on site resulted from lack of political will by previous administrations in the state and that is why it has consumed so much time and many people began to lose hope on whether it would one day wind up or bounced back.
What is obvious on the port is that it is a capital intensive project and all the governments that came after Obasanjo seemed not to be interested in completing the project, hence it suffered serious neglect.
Every successive government would like to claim credit for executing the project but lack of commitment stagnated the free flow of the project due to lack of funds.
Besides, even at the state level, many governors right from the administration of Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, no one was committed to the Dala Inland Dry Port project as Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
The managing director of the port, Hon. Ahmad Rabiu, attested to the fact that the present government in the state had sunk over N2.3bn to ensure that the project becomes a reality.
According to Hon. Rabiu, in February 2018, Ganduje, after listening to all the complaints that put the port in coma, felt that an economic project like this should not be allowed to waste. He then decided to award a N2.3bn project for the parameter fencing, water supply and power supply to revive work at the site.
The governor did not only say it but acted and immediately after that, the project came back to life.
Rabi’u said having spent almost 20 years on the project it could be imagined that resources had gone down the drains but because Ganduje gave it new life, people had begun to look for investment opportunities in due to the commitment they saw on ground.
He said once in full operation it would fully revive trans-Sahara commercial activities and provide jobs for over 20,000 people.
Rabi’u said the project would no longer experience ‘snail movement’ caused by the sluggish tendencies of the past.
He said part of the N2.3bn was used for the construction of the perimeter fencing of the 200 hectare land acquired for the project.
He said already, contract is in progress for the construction of access roads, provision electricity, water supply and construction of the fence.
“The project was conceptualized 20 years ago by the then president Olusegun Obasanjo, it is scheduled to have its first phase of $17 million commissioned before the end of December this year,” he said.
The managing director added that the project was designed to have a special economic zone of about 165 hectares.
“The dry port will have facilities that would take 10,000 large containers, with an administrative block and other necessary facilities slated to be completed by December 2021.
“With the building of the road network, fencing and provision of water and power for the project, Governor Ganduje is committed to the actualisation,” he added.
He said when the project is completed, Kano would compete favourably with Lagos in terms of internally generated revenue in addition to reducing the cost of bringing containers.
Engineer Bashir Khalil said; “The Dala inland dry port is an economic project that would bring uncountable number of developments to the entire North, as it will change the way things are being done commercially. When goods are ferried from the Apapa or Tin Can Island to the Zawaciki Dry Port, it will reduce the cost of production and beat the prices of commodities and this will be a great advantage to the common man.”
He argued further that with the dry port on ground Kano will be exposed to the entire world as far as business activities are concerned.
On his part, an official of the host Kumbotso local government area who spoke on condition of anonymity said the local government would benefit from the port when it fully takes off because the council would be receiving its share of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) apart from the employment opportunities that would abound in the area.
“We will struggle to ensure that our young ones are given their due and we will work round the clock to see that they have something doing once the port commenced operation,” he said.
Some workers at the port were confident that based on the way work was progressing there was every reason to believe that the deadline would be met.
Some Kano residents are however sceptical on the December deadline but expressed hope that the project would become a reality.