Abuja - The Federal Government on Tuesday inaugurated a committee for the realization of the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) project in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that ICDs are common user facilities equipped with fixed installations to offer services for temporary storage of import and export products.
They are empty containers carried under customs control and equivalent to a seaport located in the hinterland, hence they are described as Dry Ports.
Inaugurating the committee in Abuja, the Minister of Transport, Sen. Idris Umar, described the ICDs project as part of the ongoing reform process to promote efficiency and facilitate 48 hours cargo clearance at the ports.
Umar said that the problem of port congestion in the country made it necessary to provide an urgent solution through the establishment of ICDs as sustainable and viable strategy to de-congest the ports.
He added that the ICDs were designed to bring shippers services to the doorstep of shippers across the nation to improve the turnaround time of vessels.
The minister said "it will thereby reduce demurrage, pilferage and freight rates, as well as create opportunities for international shipping facilities in the hinterlands.
"The present trend in international trade is containerisation of cargo.
"The full benefits can only be derived when containers are moved to points very close to important industrial stations to assist importers to import goods at the nearest point to their factory.’’
Umar, however, said it was in realisation of this that the Federal Government approved the establishment of six ICDs on March 15, 2006.
The approved ICDs, he said, were in Erunmu in Oyo State, Ntigha in Abia, Zawachiki in Kano State, Heipang in Plateau, Bulunkutu in Borno and Zanfarawa in Kastina State.
The minister, who added that the ICDs were under the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model, however, regretted that the projects were yet to begin operations due to constraints faced by the concessionaires at the implementation stage.
He, therefore, urged the committee to work toward the realisation of the project.
Responding, the Chairman of the committee, Mrs Ngozi Jipreze, said the committee would work in accordance with the terms of reference given it.
Jipreze, who is also the Legal Adviser, Ministry of Transport, said the committee would address all legal constraints militating against the effective implementation of the ICDs.