Though it is more economical for Nigeria’s neighbouring landlocked country, Niger Republic to be transiting her imports through the Kaduna Dry Port or Kano Inland Container Terminal (ICD), the country has continued to patronise the Benin seaport which is over 1500 kilometers to Maradi, Niger’s southern Commercial hub.
This development, President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Hon Iju Nwabunike disclosed, is costing the country loss of over 100,000TEUs (Twenty-foot equivalent unit)of container traffic annually (67,000 twenty foot containers and 18,000 forty foot containers).
He disclosed that the revenue loss to Nigeria as a result is heavy because Benin is paying huge transport cost for transporting her transit cargoes from the Cotonue Port to Maradi.
Nwabunike, who spoke in a recent interactive session with maritime journalists in Lagos tagged: ‘AMJON Monthly Roundtable’, organised by the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria, disclosed that it will be extremely cheaper for Niger to transit her cargoes from the Kaduna Dry Port (about 250 kilometers to Mardi) or Kano ICD (about 150 kilometers to Maradi); than from the Cotonue Seaport which is over 1,500 kilometers to Maradi.
Nwabunike, who is also a Director of ICNL, operators of the Kaduna Dry Port, regretted that since the Dry Port was inaugurated with much fanfare by President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2018, it has been confronted with several challenges including ineffective rail transporting system and poor state of the roads from Lagos to Kaduna.
He, however, said that the most daunting challenge is the failure of the Shipping Companies to in line with global standards, start to send cargoes directly to the Dry Port and add the cost of land transportation from Lagos to the Dry Port, in the tariff chargeable on the cargo. He expressed fears that the action of the Shipping Companies might be aimed at sabotaging the success of the Dry Port.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna Dry Port is a port of origin and port of destination with full paraphernalia of all government agencies involved in the cargo import and export processes.
Nwabunike further warned that unless the Kaduna Dry Port is up and running effectively soonest, Nigeria would lose forever the over 100,000TEUs Niger’s transit cargoes as Benin Republic has already commenced construction of 1500 kilometers Standard Gauge rail line from Cotonue Port to Maradi, Niger Republic.
According to him, over 800 kilometers of the new Cotonue-Maradi rail line has been completed.
“When that rail line is completed, it will reduce the cost of transportation of cargoes from Cotonue to Maradi.” He said the only advantage we have over Benin is to snatch the Niger transit cargo traffic from them is the low cost of transportation we offer to Niger Shippers. “Otherwise, they are more emotionally attached to Benin which is their fellow French speaking nation than to us.”
He added that to make the bad situation worse: “Our recent closure of our borders with them, has turned them against us. Infact they almost mobbed us during our recent visit to that country to explain to them why they should use the Kaduna Dry Port.”