Rotimi Raimi Hassan, the General Manager of Kaduna Inland Dry Port (KIDP), spoke with reporters on the prospects of the Dry Port in supporting national economic growth, the hope to surpass the challenges. ANDREW UTULU was there for DAILY INDEPENDENT. Excerpts:
What were your corporate projections for 2020, and how have you achieved them in the face of the peculiar challenges encountered this year?
We projected 6,000 TEUs for year 2020. We would have surpassed the target, but due to corona virus pandemic in February 2020 that cut across the countries worldwide made it impossible.
Presently, the port users are now receiving the dividends of port operations. They are harnessing the port closer to them, like being at their doorsteps as we are providing door to door shipping services tailored at meeting their needs.
To what extent has COVID-19 lockdown affected your operations?
COVID-19 pandemic affected all sectors of the global economy and our maritime or shipping sector was not an exception.
The losses were huge because it reduced our expected container throughputs since it’s outbreak in Nigeria in February, this year.
This affected our business activities, our volume of trade and our income. It affected international trade transactions and virtually grounded the world economy which almost went into recession.
The Customs License Agents operating in our port had it difficult to pay duty and take delivery of cargoes due to fear of contacting and spreading of corona virus.
The commercial banks were not working while there was complete ban on interstate movement except for essential duties.
We sought for and obtained approval from the Kaduna state government for our staff and customs agents (Customers) to move out from their homes; to operate and clear their consignments from Kaduna inland dry port terminal.
I must add that the Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai graciously approved. He has indeed been very supportive for our port.
What was your level of operations during the lockdown?
We rearranged our operational activities to cope with current trend in existence and managed the situation in order not put our staff and other port users at risk.
We directed only the operations staff to come to work daily while other support staff worked from home. We complied with all the COVID-19 protocols and we are still in compliance presently. Kaduna Inland Dry Port left nothing to chance; we never took anything for granted.
To the glory of God, none of our employees or port users contracted the disease. I want to appreciate their compliance levels in line with the guidelines of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Federal Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Let me add that as part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), we donated food items and other relief materials to our host community to cushion the effect of the pandemic on their lives and sources of livelihood.
How many containers or tons of cargoes have you processed for import and export in the first nine months of this year?
We have received close to 3,500 TEU or 68,420 metric tons while export forwarding has lot of prospects now that we are entering export season.
We are making contact with exporters and it is very clear that we will have lots of export goods exiting from our dry port.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has appointed Cobalt International Limited as Pre-Inspection Agent. Other private inspection agency – Bureau Veritas has shown interest to operate from KIDP.
The beauty of it is that freight forwarders have the benefits to process with customs at export seat and with other relevant units to transport export goods to ships in Lagos, Onne, Tincan Island and Warri ports from Kaduna Dry Port.
How has rail transportation impacted on your operations this year?
For an inland containers dry port to operate to optimum, the rail system must be effective and efficient in their cargo 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 cargos and, return leg into seaport with either empty or export goods containers.
We are hopeful because the Federal Government is working towards helping to emplace this critical railway infrastructure required for seamless cargo movement. We are aware that work is ongoing in this regard.
In your opinion, what is the degree of awareness of the Northern business community about Kaduna Dry Port?
The degree of awareness is very high coupled with mode of communicating to prospective port users.
We advertise through the electronic media (radio jingles), seminars, trade fairs, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, twitter and LinkedIn.
These have helped us in creating awareness and we hope to do more to convince shippers that Kaduna Inland Dry Port has what it takes to clear their goods without hindrance and enjoy easy way of doing maritime business at their door steps.
Have you started getting cargoes through bill of laden indicating Kaduna Dry Port as port of destination from directly from ports of origin?
That is the major challenge we are still facing with shipping companies. Most shippers’ complain of shipping lines insisting of cargoes final delivery at Lagos, Onne,Tincan Island seaports and the rest.
We are hoping for a better deal now that Nigerian Shippers Council, Nigerian Ports Authority, 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.
In ideal shipping process, cargos destined to inland dry port are responsibility of the carrier from the country – port of loading (POL) to country – port of destination (POD). Inland and ocean freight charges covered the payment made by shipper.