Lack of Wagons to Kaduna ICD Costs Importers N7.2bn in 11 Months 

 

 

ABIOLA Seun

Northern Importers have spent over N7.26 billion since January to date to move cargoes by road from the Lagos seaports- Apapa and Tin Can to the Kaduna Inland Dry Port, investigation has shown.

The amount spent to haul cargoes to the ICD could have been lower if the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) had made wagons available. About 25 containers leave Lagos ports on daily basis by road trucking head to Kaduna ICD.

The importers who based in the northern states spend N30 million daily and N660 million a month to move their containers on articulated long vehicles from Lagos to Kaduna ICD by road. This trucking by road which is very expensive has become a last resort due to the absence of wagons which should have been provided by the Nigerian Railway Corporation.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari on January 2, 2018 officially flagged-off the Kaduna ICD for activities. The Kaduna ICD is the first of its kind in Nigeria created and designed to receive cargoes from Apapa Port in Lagos, through the railway.

The dryport is also designated as port of origin for exports and port of destination for imports. It was also designed to accelerate the implementation of the federal government’s economic diversification policy by providing for importers and exporters located within the nation’s hinterland, especially industrial and commercial outfits, access to shipping and port services without necessarily visiting the seaports.

But, the motives for the creation of the dryport is greatly under threat as importers now move their cargoes from the port through trucks instead of rail.

According to investigation, an importer pays between N1million to N1.2 million to move cargoes from any of the Lagos seaports to the Kaduna ICD.

Speaking exclusively to our correspondent, the Deputy president, Dry Cargo of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners,  Alhaji Inuwa Abdulahi confirmed that movement of cargoes from Lagos to Kaduna could hover between N1million to N1.2 million per container due to the challenges at the Lagos ports.

Abdulahi said the haulage which used to be N500,000 before the return of the Apapa gridlock has risen to N1.2 million.

He said, “Two weeks ago, 40ft containers which is about 35 tons to Kaduna ICD from Lagos was N1.2 million but now it’s about N1 million and could go up at any time. Before the gridlock, it was about N450,000 to N500,000 to Kaduna but the gridlock has worsened everything,” he said.

Also, managing director of the Inland Container Nigeria Limited (ICNL), the promoter of the Kaduna ICD, Yusuf Ismail described non-functioning of the rail track as a setback for the project.

“The purpose of establishing all Inland Container Depots is to have these railway lines to the dry port so that the cost of transportation will be cheaper and will be better for the users of the port.

“But presently since the rail is not working we are forced to be using road and you know the condition of roads in Nigeria, we have lots of bad roads everywhere and cost of transportation has increased, cost of diesel has gone up. So, definitely where you are supposed to spend N400, 000 for a 40 foot container, you end up spending N800, 000 or more so that is the limiting factor,” the managing director lamented.

Also speaking a top management staff of the Kaduna ICD had complained that the inability of the NRC to move cargoes from the seaport to the ICD has affected operations.

The source who craved anonymity said few cargoes they received at the dryport since the commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari were still being brought by trucks.

The source also said even though the railway corporation promised to dedicate wagons and locomotives at a stakeholders meeting in Lagos for the exercise, after the commissioning, they are yet to fulfil their promise.

“When we had a stakeholders meeting at Federal Place Hotel, Lagos, the Managing Director of NRC promised that they will dedicate locomotives and wagons before the end of second quarter but we are a month away from the end of the last quarter yet they have not done their part, but they said they are working on it.”

He stated further that shippers from the Northern part of the country have expressed disappointment over non-functional rail system into the dryport.

“Northern Shippers have been coming and asking whether the rail is working and we have told them they will start operations by this quarter. ‎They believe ‎rail is cheaper and safe.

“If we use rail, we have more advantage to attract northern shippers and the dryport has cost leverage compared to what is obtainable in Lagos ports. If we are to entice customers, rail use must be working because, we can use rail for both import and export,” he said.

He added, “They have not started moving containers either in or out, but they have promised that before the end of this quarter they will give us locomotives and wagons. The movement of cargoes they did was last year, and that was when they had a wash out‎ but they have concluded the washout. What we need now is wagons and locomotives.”

On the impact of the trucking cargoes by road, he said “Since the train is not working, we have been getting cargoes by roads and you know our roads are bad and the best option is the rail even in South Africa that is what is used.

“You know that it is a new business, unlike when it was a Bonded Terminal, the processes are slightly different” he concluded.

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