Inland dry ports are otherwise known as Inland Container Depots (ICDs) or Containers Freight Stations (CFS). An ICD is equivalent of a seaport located in the hinterland. It receives containers by rail or road from the seaport for examination and clearance, by customs and other competent authorities. It has all the loading and off-loading equipment needed to handle containers.
The ICDs/CFSs are expected to bring shipping services to the doorsteps of shippers across the country, assist in decongesting the seaports and make them more user friendly, provide the impetus to revive and modernize the railway, as a primary mode for long distance haulage.
It also assists in the over-all costs of cargo to hinterland locations as well as transit cargoes to landlocked countries.
The Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) promoted and facilitated the establishment of Inland Container Depots (ICDs) in Nigeria on the basis of Public Private Partnership (PPP).
There are six approved locations for the ICDs, which were concessioned to private sector operators, by the ICD Implementation Committee of the Federal Ministry of Transport, namely Isiala Ngwa, Aba, Erunmu, Ibadan, Heipang, Jos, Zawachiki, Kano, Zamfarawa, Funtua and Jauri, Maiduguri.
However, out of the six ICDs recommended to be built across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria; the Aba ICD was the first to be issued with a certificate of occupancy, a feat the management of the NSC attributed to the good relationship that exists between the host community and the concessionaire, as well as the doggedness of the management of Eastgate to realise the project.
To show its commitment in the project, the Abia State Government acquired 20 percent equity in the Aba ICD, expected to be completed in 30 months.
The aim is for the people of the State to reap the full benefits of the project touted to be the most viable among the other ICD projects in the country.
The State Government’s stake in the project, would give additional confidence to the Federal Government, represented by the NSC, Eastgate-the concessionaires and the people of the State.
The project on completion will attract so many companies to Avor Ntigha, Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area of the state, where it is located.
Applauding the state government’s commitment to the project, Bill Nkemdirim, chief executive officer, Eastgate Container Terminal Limited, observed that the administration of Okezie Ikpeazu (PhD), above every other thing, had in recent times shown that it understood that the project had the potential to turn Abia into an Asian Tiger-like state.
“To buttress this commitment, the Governor has committed the State in acquiring equity in this project to the tune of 20 percent, so Abia owns 20 percent of the project, which means that all Abians are stakeholders in the business, he stressed.
“This dry port is a very critical project to realize, because it will not only bring about the development of Abia state, it will stop the restiveness of the youths through job creation and has the capacity to bring about massive development of the host communities.
In continuation of the build-up to the realization of the project, Eastgate and its partners, BRJ and Associates of America, and Emirate and Sung, a London based venture capitalist firm, inspected the Avor Ntigha site of the project on Thursday, August 24, 2017, prior to commencement of construction, which is expected to begin in September 2017.
Eastgate Terminal Limited, the project concessionaire and BRJ and Associates of the United States of America, its development partners, recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), signalling the readiness of the parties to commence work on the project.
Consequently, BRJ, a construction and project management firm, based in Pasadena, California, united States of America, is to construct the dry port and manage it on behalf of Eastgate Terminal Limited.
The proposed project, which is a 50,000 TEU (container) port facility, will serve Aba, Onitsha, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Delta and Benue States. The port would receive containerised cargo by rail or road from Port Harcourt.
Ginger Onwusibe, executive chairman, Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area, who hosted Eastgate and its partners at his country home, in Isiala Ngwa, expressed delight over the project, which he observed would not only bring development closer to host communities, but also create employment for the people of the area, when it is realised.
He promised that the Local Government would provide all the support that Eastgate Terminal Limited, and its partners need to ensure that the project is realized soonest.
The Mayor, who expressed joy over the commitment of the State Government and other stakeholders in ensuring that the project takes-off soon, also applauded the Avor Ntigha people, the land owners, for releasing their land for the project.
“We want to assure you of security and every other assistance required of Government at the local level to ensure that this project takes-off and concluded at the very possible time.
“We cannot over-emphasis the multiplier effect of citing this project in our locality, because once it has been described as a port of final destination, it means that we can export and import our goods from this port.
“In fact, the Governor said that the first consignment will arrive here before the end of December this year. So, it will be our wish that the desire of the Governor is achieved.
When fully operational, the Avor Ntigha Inland Container Depot is expected to boost commerce in Abia and other states in the South-East region.