President Muhammadu Buhari thursday inaugurated the Inland Dry Port in Kaduna.
The president also inaugurated new train coaches and locomotives at the Rigassa train station in Kaduna.
Speaking at the inauguration of the dry port, Buhari warned the Nigerian customs service and Port officials against frustrating business activities at Inland dry ports in the country.
He said customs and port officials must make the facilities work and not to frustrate business, commercial and industrial enterprises with unnecessary bureaucracy and delays, thereby defeating the objective of the whole exercise as it was in in the past.
He said apart from the Kaduna Inland Dry Port, six other dry ports located in Ibadan, Aba, Kano, Jos, Funtua and Maiduguri, had been gazetted and were at various stages of completion.
Buhari urged relevant stakeholders across the public and private sectors to utilise the facility optimally.
He noted that the hinterland business community had waited for too long for such facility with tremendous potentials to ease the way of doing international business for interior based importers and exporters.
Buhari said the dry ports, when completed, would reduced congestion and traffic gridlock at the sea port while time and cost of doing business would be reduced.
Buhari noted that “the development of inland dry port is an important factor in our economic development efforts as Ports of origin for exports and ports of destination for imports.”
According to him, “The Inland Dry Ports will accelerate the implementation of our economic diversification policy.
“The concept of Inland Dry Port has gained widespread importance with the tremendous changes in international transportation as a result of the container revolution and the introduction of door-to-door delivery of cargo.
“It provides 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.
“It also enables them to process clearance of their import cargo and take delivery of their raw materials and machinery close to their places of business. Furthermore, the Inland Dry Ports will also provide our exporters the much needed facilities to process, package, consolidate and forward their exports to their customers all over the world without having to physically be at the seaports.
“This replicates the port economy in the various centres where the dry ports are located inland thereby generating employment and contributing to the ease of doing business.
He commended the initiative of Nigerian Shippers’ Council towards promoting the provision of modern transport infrastructural facilities and urge the concessionaires of the other six dry ports accelerating work on theirs.
Speaking earlier while inaugurating the new train coaches and locomotives at the Rigassa, Buhari said his administration was committed to linking all major commercial and production centres as well as state capitals with railway system to bring about rapid socio economic development.
“Let me recall that, I commissioned and flagged off the Abuja-Kaduna train service in July last year, which was Nigeria’s first ever outstanding train service.
“I am glad that this service has become very useful to commuters and has even become the preferred form of transport for the commuters for journey between Abuja and Kaduna.
“You may want to recall that during the commissioning in 2016, I restated our resolve to rigorously pursue development in Nigeria through the implementation of the 25 year strategic railway master plan.
“Additional critical project which are in particularly to start, include the rail lines in Lagos to Calabar, which branch us to Benin, Agbor and Onitsha.
“Port Harcourt to Maiduguri standard guage rail line will branch us to Owerri, Awka, Abakaliki, Yola and Damaturu and Kano to Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibiya to link with Maradi in Niger republic as part of regional railway interconnectivity.
“Other important projects which have been approved is the procurement of more locomotives, coaches, workshops and equipment that will be used for new standard gauge lines by way of encouraging private sector participation in our railway development” Buhari said.
He added that negotiations for concession of the narrow gauge railways with a consortium is in progress.
“We are looking forward to a more efficient train service on the narrow gauge lines to be driven by the private sector. It is on the basis of this, that we are creating a more conducive environment for private sector, especially by strengthening our legal and regular trade frameworks.
“This is not only a statement of intentions, but a benchmark which we are using to measure the performance of our administration. Our resolve to develop our railway system to a world-class standard remains,” Buhari said.