The Federal Government has unveiled plans to inaugurate the ongoing Funtua Inland Dry Port project, Sokoto State, in November this year even as the French Government assured its support for the multi-billion Naira project.
The Executive Secretary/CEO Nigerian Shipper’s Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, gave this hint on Thursday in Abuja during a meeting between the Council, Concessionaires for the Inland Dry Ports and the French Embassy.
Hassan, who highlighted the successes recorded by the Council so far, said the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, would perform the inauguration ceremony on the dry port project
He further explained that the Council was currently promoting the establishment of Inland Dry Ports and Vehicle Transit Areas nationwide, adding that the step was aimed at facilitating “seamless movement of cargo throughout the entire transport value chain and to decongest the Nigerian sea ports.
“The whole comprehensive plan is about linking the ports with a functional rail network, because we need rail for schedule transportation. We will be signing an MoU with the Nigerian Railway Corporation because we have a lot of things to import and export.”
“Five places have been earmarked and a Hamburg company had carried out study already to see where input or trading is done.
“I’m talking about Funtua, the agricultural berth of West Africa for a very long time and it has the only textile company still operating, it is there and if you go to the site we have chosen, you will see a semblance of a port, stores, storage and so on. We have reached up to 68 per cent completion and we have to galvanize to see that we will be there either October or November for the Minister to make it open and operational. It is very, very attractive it’s within the Lakaiji Corridor
“We have Kano, the industrial hub with a lot of factories and energetic population. Kano also galvanized in the last three months. The State government has spent up to 2 billion naira on infrastructure, the roads and everything.
“We have the Ibadan which would soon be done. Others are in Plateau state which is also critical because there is cargo airport and Plateau is known for its exotic fruits and we are willing to deliver fruits to France everyday and is doable.
“There is one in Isialangua which is in Abia state which is very important also and recently, the governor has said that he is concentrating on that because a lot of cargo goes to the East and Aba people for their enterprise, industrialists will also do the same. So, we are all getting in together.
“The critical thing is that, it is not a government but private sector thing. The private sector must lead the economy and all of these were concession to the private sector. Then, we have the Kaduna which was commissioned by the President about two years ago. It’s extremely important because Kaduna is becoming also industrialize”, the Executive Secretary added.
Earlier in her remarks, Regional Agriculture Counselor, Embassy of France in Nigeria, Dr. Sonia Darracq, said attended the event for the purposes of understanding better what the federal government and the private sector plans are towards the development of the nation’s dry ports sector and the adjacent infrastructure.
She said: “I’m very much also keen to know the strategy for the development of the major highways and the roads which is the backbone for the transportation of agricultural products and also the Mining sector because I see some ways for collaboration and I came here specifically on the request of one of the main companies in France which is involved in Cold Chain and I’m here with some documentations. This is a group of companies that are very willing to enter in business with you.
According to her, the French Government is also very willing to assist the country in the form of some financial support, adding that “we could activate at least for the beginning and because we have discussed that before on issues of energy and we want to be part of the transformation from oil or fumes and environmentally friendly energy source in transportation and for that,
“I think we could easily activate not only the French financial assistance but also the European Union and as soon as this meeting is over, I will share the outcome with my Ambassador and the representative of the European Union for an opportunity to work together and to be part of this development that is critical for this country”, the Counselor assured