- Poor Rail Lines, Roads Threaten Dry Port Operations
The Inland Container Depots, also known as dry ports or freight stations established by the Federal Government in areas where there is no quick access to seaport, are facing a major challenge owing to poor state of infrastructure in the country.
An Inland dry port is an equivalent of a seaport located in the hinterland. It receives containers by rail or road from the seaport for examination and clearance by the Customs and other competent authorities. It has all the loading and off-loading equipment needed to handle containers.
According to the Nigerian Shippers Council, six locations have been approved for the ICDs/CFSs, which were given through concession to private sector operators by the ICD Implementation Committee of the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
They are found in Isiala Ngwa, Aba, Erunmu, Ibadan, Heipang, Jos, Zawachiki, Kano, Zamfarawa, Funtua, Jauri and Maiduguri.
In addition to these six, the Kaduna ICD was recently inaugurated by the NSC and set for operations, according to the council.
The Kaduna Area Officer of the NSC, Bala Adamu, said in May that the manifest for cargoes destined for the ICD Kaduna would read ‘Lagos/Kaduna’, meaning that such cargoes would first land in the Lagos port from where they would be moved to the Kaduna ICD without examination.
He further informed that the goods would be moved to Kaduna by road or rail, depending on which was available.
Stakeholders have however expressed concerns about the lack of functional rail lines linking the ICDs to the ports and the poor and deplorable state of the roads in the country.
They also observed that none of the dry ports was linked by rail to the Lagos port.
For the ICDs to succeed, the President of the Shippers Association Lagos State, Jonathan Nicol, said the government had to provide every necessary infrastructure, including good rail and road network.
Nicole said, “Our rail system from Apapa port and Tin Can Island Port must be operational. It is a starting point for the ICD unless we want to move those containers, which do not make sense to me, by road and you are not bringing them to another terminal. It will be very expensive to do so.
“The ICDs are set up when you have a workable railway system and that is what I will advise the government to do, especially in Apapa (Lagos) where we have railway facility, it must be workable. Once it is workable, then, your ICD will succeed; but in the absence of that, there will be bottlenecks here and there.”
Responding, a former President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Eugene Nweke, told our correspondent that freight wagons were expected to arrive in Nigeria later in the year.
He said while waiting for them, cargoes would be moved to the dry ports by road and the government was committed to providing adequate security for them.
He added that terminal operators were working hand in hand with container carrying companies to supply empty containers to the dry ports so that cargoes could be loaded before being transported to the Lagos port for shipment.
“The dry ports are being designated for export and import of agro produce. They are also designated as Inland Depot Empty Container Centres where empty containers can be supplied for people to load their produce directly, instead of going to Lagos to get empty containers to load before taking them back to Lagos for shipment,” he said.
Dangote Commits $700M To Sugar Production In Support of Backward Integration Policy
The management of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc has said it is committing over $700m to its sugar projects to support the Backward Integration Policy of the Federal Government to make Nigeria self-sufficient in sugar production.
According to a statement issued on Sunday by Dangote Industries Limited, the company disclosed this to visiting members of the Nasarawa House of Assembly on Friday.
The company noted that Nigeria was one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest importers of sugar, second only to South Africa with an annual import of over $337m.
The Dangote Sugar management however assured the lawmakers that with the completion of its sugar projects in Nasarawa and Adamawa under the BIP, the nation would be saved more than half of the forex expended on sugar imports annually.
It added that the investment would also lift its people as other people-oriented infrastructures would come with the sugar projects.
The state lawmakers commended the Dangote Group for the choice of the state for the project and the accelerated pace with which the project was being executed, despite occasional delays arising from communal disagreements.
General Manager for the BIP, Dangote Sugar, John Beverley said when the factory was fully operational, it would have the capacity to crush 12,000 tons of cane per day, while 90MW power would be generated for both the company’s use and host communities.
He also disclosed that some 500km roads in all would be constructed to ease transportation within the vicinity. He solicited the support of the lawmakers in controlling the menace of land encroachment by settlers and itinerant farmers.
The Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Ibrahim Abdullah, and his team members, who were conducted around the company’s 78,000 hectares BIP in Tunga Awe Local Government Area commended the company for the project.
Abdullah noted that it would not only open up opportunities in the state but in Africa as a whole, and said the lawmakers were ready to partner and support the company towards the realisation of the sugar project through the relevant legislation.
When phase II of the project is completed, according to the company, it will make it the largest sugar refining plant in Africa.
French Trade Advisors pledge Massive Investment In Lagos Free Zone
The Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur (French Foreign Trade Advisors) has expressed readiness to invest massively in the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) being developed by the Tolaram Group as they endorsed the zone as the ideal industrial destination for French businesses in Nigeria.
This was made known on Thursday, April 15, 2021, during a visit to the Lagos Free Zone. The delegation led by the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, His Excellency Jerome Pasquier accompanied by his Economic Advisor, the Consulate General of France in Lagos and the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur comprising of CEOs of several French businesses in Nigeria.
Speaking during the visit, the Ambassador of France in Nigeria, His Excellency Jerome Pasquier explained that the aim of the visit of the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur to Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) was to discover the opportunities in the Lagos Free Zone and the Lekki Port project, which is expected to have a huge positive impact on businesses in Nigeria.
Pasquier commended Tolaram Group, the promoter of the zone, for the foresight of integration of Lekki Port into the master plan of the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ), which would serve as the gateway for import and export from the zone thereby giving businesses in the zone a competitive edge.
The Ambassador also commended the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) for its Master Plan for the zone which includes world-class infrastructure that is in line with its vision to be the preferred industrial hub and investment destination in West Africa.
“I am impressed by the huge size of the Lagos Free Zone project. We are very happy that the French companies will be deeply involved in this Lagos Free Zone project. It is really impressive to see how ambitious this project is. The French Minister was in Nigeria yesterday and I explained to him that Nigeria is a country where we can have big projects. For us, this project means big opportunities and that explains why we need to be here. We are happy to be here and work with Tolaram Group”, he added.
It is noteworthy to mention that the first French company to be established in the Lagos Free Zone is the terminal operations arm of CMA – CGM which has established a subsidiary within the Lagos Free Zone and is the appointed operator for the container terminal operations scheduled to commence at Lekki Port next year.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer, Lagos Free Zone (LFZ), Mr. Dinesh Rathi assured the Ambassador of France and the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur that the zone remains the best destination for investment in Nigeria and the West African sub-region given the seamless integration with Lekki Port and the world-class infrastructure provided by Lagos Free Zone.
Explaining the configuration of the zone, Rathi disclosed that the clustering is planned in line with the international best practices of Work, Live, and Play. He stated that the land-use plan of the Lagos Free Zone allocates 70 percent area towards industrial developments, 20 percent towards logistics and support services while the real estate will cover the remaining 10 percent.
He also stated that Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) has simplified the process of business entry and operation in the zone in line with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business policy.
“We have made it very easy for the business to berth and take off at zone by making our process less cumbersome and friendly, we are open for business 24/7 and willing to help investors to settle in very fast,” he said.
AIICO Refutes Claims of Non-Remittance of Pension Assets to PTAD
AIICO Insurance Plc has refuted claims of non-remittance of pension assets to the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).
This was disclosed recently in a statement by Segun Olalandu, the Head, Strategic Marketing and Communications Department.
It stated: “The attention of the Management of AIICO Insurance Plc. has been drawn to a recent report in the media on allegations of non-remittance of pension assets to the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).
“AIICO Insurance Plc. hereby wishes to inform the public that all pension assets due for remittance have been duly transferred to PTAD since the year 2017, in full compliance with the directive. Both parties are presently engaged in a reconciliation exercise to conclude the process. We implore the public to disregard any information that may suggest otherwise as there is no basis to that effect.”
Mr. Segun assured that AIICO Insurance Plc. remains a responsible corporate citizen of Nigeria and will continue to engage the best practice in all its business activities and operations in line with extant laws and regulatory provisions guiding its practice.
AIICO Insurance is a leading composite insurer in Nigeria with a record of serving our customers that dates back over 50 years. Founded in 1963, AIICO provides life and health insurance, general insurance, and investment management services as a means to create and protect wealth for individuals, families, and corporate customers.
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