Stakeholders renew call for Abia ‘dry port’

Abia State Governor

Abia State Governor

THE call for the actualisation of the proposed Abia Inland Container (ICD) Depot (dry port) has been renewed in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of Abia State. The port was planned to be sited at Avor Ntigha in Isiala Ngwa North Local Council of the state.

The issue dominated last week’s one-day enlightenment seminar on “Addressing the Transport and Logistics Challenges of Southeast Shippers” organised by the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) at the Hotel DeLa Paix, Aba

Describing itself as major player in promoting entrepreneurship in and being disposed to encouraging activities that enhance economic growth and development, the Abia State Government commended the Shippers Council in what it termed the ingenuity and thoughtfulness it exhibited in organising the seminar.

Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ernest Onyeukwu, a cleric, declared the seminar open, describing efforts at growing the economy as national task for all and sundry. Urging the Shippers Council to continue to see the organisation and its members as an integral part of the economic system in Nigeria, he stressed the need for Nigerians to rise up with deep sense of devotion and commitment in facing challenges confronting the maritime and shipping sector.

The Permanent Secretary, who was represented by Director of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMSE) in the Ministry, Mr. Simeon Ehiemere, said that the Shippers Council being a Federal Government agency responsible for promotion of fair trade practice had the additional task of developing a database for shipping operations in the South East zone.

According to him, this will help government have reliable information for effective and efficient administration and control of commodity flow to combat smuggling and other illegitimate trade activities. “Apart from the problem of intrigues of transport/logistics in Cargo movement and documentation in international trade, this seminar should also look into the environmental challenges, security, port congestion and proffer solutions.”

Drawing attention to the seemingly abandoned Abia ICD Project, he said, “It is on record that out of the six Inland Container Depots recommended to be built across the six geo-political Zones of Nigeria, the Abia ICD was the first to be issued with Certificate of Occupancy to fast-track its development to service the South East.

“The ICD, when actualised, will help extend shipping services to the hinterland and landlocked areas, thereby decongesting the Nigerian ports and fast track clearing services for importers from the South East.”

He urged the Shippers Council as a facilitator to the Abia ICD to prevail on the concessionaire — the East Gate Inland Terminal — to go back to site, just as he gave the assurance that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was poised to partner with organisations to make the Abia ICD a reality.

In her keynote address, the Shippers Council Director of Inland Transport Services, Mrs. Sa Adeagbo, said the seminar was part of the shippers’ continuous primary function in building capacity for players in the shipping trade through designed enlightenment programmes.

Represented by Winner Anayo, the NSC Deputy Director, Adeagbo recalled that the Federal Government had, in February 2014, appointed the Shippers Council as economic regulator of the nation’s ports, a move that saddled it with the responsibility of sanitising the trade processes across the ports by setting appropriate standards for service delivery to ensure affordability, availability and efficiency of services.

According to her, the challenges in securing transport and logistics in cargo movement are enormous but not insurmountable.

“To effectively access global markets, we must be able to move our products across our borders, which in turn reflect in high cost of goods in the marketplace.”

In his welcome address, Mr. Christian Chimezie, the NSC coordinator in the South East said the cardinal objective of the seminar was to address the seemingly intractable problem of transport and logistics confronting the shippers.

In his remarks, Customs Area Controller for Abita/Imo Command, Mr. Teewhy Akor, who was represented by Mr. Audu Samuel, the Deputy Controller for Aba, said the process of clearing goods in Nigerian ports has been subject to serious changes as governments change.

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