ICRC Moves To Revamp Six Dry Ports Concessions

In a bid to get the six Inland Container Depots (ICDs) located in each of the geo-political zones of Nigeria operational, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) held a meeting with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), the owners of the project and the Concessionaires.

The meeting, which was at the instance of the ICRC that is charged with the responsibility of regulating all government concessions and Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), sought to find solutions to the factors hindering the completion of the dry ports whose contracts were signed since 2006.

Acting Director-General of the Commission, Mr Michael Ohiani, who declared the meeting open, stressed that 16 years after the concession contracts were signed, some of the ICDs were still at five percent completion while only two had gotten to 55 percent and 68 percent, hence the need for the meeting.

Speaking further, the Ag. DG said, “We want to rub minds and come up with how we can make progress: what are the challenges taking into consideration that these projects have already gotten Mr President’s attention and more so, we need to decongest our seaports. Also when completed, these ICDs will bring the required benefit to our citizens and our country Nigeria.

“We are not unaware that at the material time that the contracts were signed, ICRC as a Commission had not been set up, so no proper Outline Business Cases (OBCs) were done for the projects like we now do, but I want us to have a frank discussion so that we can chart a way forward.

The commission reminded the concessionaires and NSC that by its act, it is to take custody of all PPP contracts including the ones for the ICDs.

The concessionaires and states where the ports are located include Oyo State (Ibadan) with 50,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEUs), by Catamaran Logistics Ltd; Abia State (Isiala Ngwa) with 50,000 TEUs by Eastgate Ltd; Plateau State (Jos) with 20,000 TEUs by Duncan Maritime Nig. Ltd; Kano State (Dala) with 20,000 TEUs by Dala Inland Dry Port Ltd.; Katsina State (Funtua) with 10,000 TEUs by Equitorial Marine Oil and Gas Ltd. and Borno State (Maiduguri) with 10,000 TEUs by Migfo Nigeria Ltd.

Based on the last assessment presented to the ICRC by the NSC, the percentage progress made by the concessionaires were: Oyo state – 10%, Abia state – 5%, Plateau State 29.7%, Kano state – 55%, Katsina State – 68% and Borno State – 5%.

However, the concessionaires told the ICRC that the 16 years journey had been fraught with various challenges which had hampered any progress that could have been recorded.

The concessionaires complained of poor cooperation from state governments who mostly delay in meeting their own part of the agreement, for instance in the area of land provision.

Another major challenge they emphasised was the lack of narrow gauge rail lines in and out of the dry ports which they noted was important to make the operation of the ports efficient.

They added that access to funds also remained a major issue even as banks and foreign investors make unreasonable demands for assets and bank bonds before the release of funds.

The concessionaires unanimously stressed the need for the ports being constructed to be given the status of port of origin and destination and also to be registered with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) upon completion.

In view of the delay in execution, the concessionaires stressed the need for a new agreement, pointing out that an agreement started in 2017 between them and the NSC but it was yet to be cleared by the Federal Ministry of Justice on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

They however commended the ICRC for its intervention and also appreciated the NSC for their support so far, noting that they were confident that under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the contracts will be sorted out.

While thanking the stakeholders for honouring the invitation of the ICRC, it was resolved that going forward, there will be periodic meetings to ensure that the projects are speedily completed.

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