By Muyiwa Lucas

 

Operators have urged the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to create a platform for operations of inland containers dry port. They said the ports should be keyed into the Nigeria Customs Integrated System Two (NICIS II).

Doing this, it is believed, will make smooth the operations of inland dry ports.

The General Manager, Kaduna Inland Dry Port (KIDP), Rotimi Raimi-Hassan, who stated this, explained that from the port of loading, cargoes destined for KIDP require a separate manifest, which would have been separated and forwarded by the shipping company to Customs formation before the arrival of the vessel.

Raimi-Hassan argued that doing this would enhance efficiency.

“KIDP does not need to go from one table to another; or either from one unit to another as if we are operating on Customs bond transire. The appropriate documentation process is applying for Customs approval through the Area Comptroller for laden containers trans-shipment from port of discharge – transit port to destination port. With manifest attached to application request, the comptroller instructs the Customs enforcement to tally out from the transit port with Customs escort officials on transit surveillance and return with landing certificate from the resident Customs official at KIDP,” he explained.

He said inland dry ports are not being fully utilised to their maximum capacity. This, he explained, is a major challenge operators of dry ports are still experiencing, especially with shipping companies as most shippers are said to complain of shipping lines insisting on cargoes’ final delivery at either Lagos, Onne, or Tin-Can Island seaports.

Raimi-Hassan is, however, hopeful that a better deal awaits operators in his sector now that the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Federal Ministry of Transportation and other stakeholders are fine-tuning policies that will encourage shippers get their cargoes destined to Kaduna Inland Dry Port and other Inland Container Depots in Nigeria.

He contended that while Apapa port, TCIP, Onne, Warri and Calabar seaports are mother or transit ports of discharge, however, through bill of lading (TBL), which is applicable if shipping lines work in consonance with the shipper’s interest, then, the process and procedure of inland dryport will be seamless.

“In an ideal shipping process, cargoes destined to inland dry port are the responsibility of the carrier from the country or port of loading (POL), to the country or port of destination (POD). Inland and ocean freight charges cover the payment made by shipper,” he said.

KIDP, he said, has received close to 3,500 TEUs or 68,420 metric tons with export forwarding now that the export season is setting in. If all goes well, Raimi-Hassan is sure of bigger returns on investment because the firm was not resting on its oars but reaching out to exporters. He said KIDP would have a lot of export goods exiting from its dry port.

Already, he said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has appointed Cobalt International Limited as Pre-Inspection Agent. Another private inspection agency – Bureau Veritas – has shown interest to operate from KIDP. This window leaves freight forwarders with the benefits to process with Customs and other units to transport export goods to ships in Lagos/Onne/Tin Can Island/Warri ports from Kaduna Inland dry port.

For now, the KIDP is yet to undertake any export haulage this year due to rail haulage that was stopped last year because of construction going on at the Lagos end by CCECC.

The rail system, which is very fundamental business for an inland containers dry port to operate optimally, must be effective and efficient in cargoes delivery, and operate in accordance with scheduled rail movement chart.

“In developed countries, rail lines were connected/linked to the seaport, for evacuation of laden containers and general cargoes with a return leg into seaport with empty or export goods containers. We are hopeful because the Federal Government is working towards helping to replace this critical railway infrastructure required for seamless cargo movement,” he said.

But it is not all lamentations for the KIDP GM. He said from the outset of the year, KIDP projected processing about 6,000 TEUs for the year, which he said could have been surpassed but for the coronavirus outbreak in February.

 

The Nation