Why Multi-Billion Naira Dry Port ,VTA In South- East Are Laid-Back

Why Multi-Billion Naira Dry Port ,VTA In South- East Are Laid-Back
A Dry Inland Port

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The only Inland Container  Deport(ICD) called  dry port and Vehicle Transit Area(VTA) located in the South East geo-political zone are being repressed by the uncooperative attitude of their host state governors, investigations have revealed.

The multi-billion naira Isiala-Ngwa dry port was one of the initial seven gazetted ICDs originally licensed by the Federal Government through the Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC) in 2002 to aid multi-modal transportation of cargo from the sea ports to hinterlands leveraging the rail and other modal connectivity, while the VTA originally conceptualized as Truck Transit Park(TTP) is a modern transport and logistics centre designed  as a one-stop-centre for safety and comfort with shopping centres, gas station, automated cargo tracking system, workshop, fire station, motel, training centre, cargo consolidation centre, among others.

 Surprisingly, while the dry ports and VTAs located in other geo-political zones are receiving the support of their host government as Public Private Partnership(PPP) project with the share ratio of 60-20-20 and a concession model of Build –Operate and Transfer, the governors of  South- Eastern states are deliberately snuffing life out of these projects.

 Asked why the projects on the South -Eastern flank have not been given the same level of attention, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC), Hon. Emmanuel Jime said,”As you know, NSC is not building VTAs or ICDs; we are promoting and in promoting, we have decided to adopt the PPP model for the delivery of these infrastructure. Therefore only where there is real interest that you see activities. On the South-East, we are having the most challenge; people taking us to court, and the state governments are completely disinterested  in what is going on.

“In Abia State in particular, hosting the Isiala-Ngwa dry port, there is a case where the state government and the concessionaire have been fighting each other. So, what do you do in such case? So, we need everybody to be on board. It is the fight we are getting that is militating against the delivery of some of these infrastructure  in the areas that you have mentioned.  The delay is self-inflicted. That is the challenge we have, it is not that anybody is deliberately promoting one against another.

 “In Yobe State, for example, the Chairman of shippers’ council board is from Yobe State, he worked with his state governor that delivered a VTA in Yobe, that is already functioning. In that case, if you accuse Shippers’ Council  for delivering in Yobe and not in Enugu, it means that you are not fully aware of the development that may have led to that.

 “In the case of Lokoja, the governor has actually paid the compensation. That is the kind of example where a governor is stepping in just as that of Dala Inland Dry Port which is one dry port that had never been mentioned because when Ibadan started Dala was abandoned. But Dala has also been on board since 20 years now, it is just last year  when the state government decided to step in by injecting funds to it that we are now talking about delivering it,’he stated.

 Saying that the court cases are still in court in the case of the South- East projects and not sure when they will be vacated, Jime stated that Adamawa State has also indicated interest in building a VTA as he recently visited the state on the invitation of the state Governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, who is the facilitator.

 Dala Inland Dry Port with a modern integrated logistics platform has been scheduled for commissioning in July 2022, following the injection of over N3billion for the first phase. It has a dry port and a VTA in-built and has attracted a niche market in the Diaspora and neigbouring border countries in the North.

 MMS Plus findings revealed however that the VTA located in Obollo-Afor in Enugu in State does not receive any attention of the state Governor, Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who influenced the location of the project. While other states were allocating between 40 to 50 hectres for the project, Enugu grudgingly gave 17 hectres with a later struggle for the Certificate of Occupancy(Cof O).  And shortly after that, some land grabbers invaded the land for grab, a development the Ugwuanyi was apprised of but did nothing to salvage the situation.

 It was further gathered that on one occasion, members of the VTA and ICD monitoring team comprising the Permanent Secretary in Federal Ministry of Transportation, ES of NSC, Infrastructure  Concession Regulatory Commission(ICRC),among other agencies, were billed to visit the Obollo-Afor site and communicated the Governor on the urgency but he kept them waiting for days despite initial appointment given on the account that he had a meeting with an Anglican Bishop in Enugu. He later called on Friday the same week at about 2pm that he was ready, when the expected guests who were still in Abuja had dispersed. It was later learnt that the visit never took place.

 The  ICDs or Container Freight Station(CFSs) are all equivalent of a seaport located in hinterland to receive containers by rail or road from the seaport for examination and clearance by customs and other competent authorities.   The initial seven are : Isiala-Ngwa in Abia State; Erunmu, Ibadan in Oyo State; Heipang, Jos in Plateau State; Dala in Kano State; Funtua in Katsina State ; Zamfarawa,Funtua in  ; Jauri, Maiduguri in Borno State; Inland Container Nigeria Limited(ICNL),Kaduna State.

 Other proposed ICDs by private sector operators are: Dagbolu in OsunState; Lolo in Kebbi State; Onitsha in Anambra State and Ogwashi –Uku in Delta State.

 Other locations of VTAs are Jebba in Niger State; Ore in Ondo State; Ogere, Ibadan in Oyo State; Lokoja in Kogi State, among others.

 These facilities(VTAs) have the potentials of generating 15 thousand jobs in direct and indirect forms with over 5Billion investment profile as at 2016, according to a report commissioned by NSC.

 The Isiala-Ngwa ICD in Abia State, with 50,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units(TEUs) is promoted by Eastgate Ltd, with directors as an Abia State-born retired Assistant Comptroller General (ACG) of Customs; a former  Managing Director of NSC; amongst others.

The Ugwuanyi- led government of Enugu State allowed the VTA in Obollo-Afor slip into the controversy of questionable tendering process  yet unresolved  even with the involvement of ICRC.

 An idea, however, to relocate the site suggested to the Governor was ignored, says an expert who has been a consultant on the project.

Recall that the VTA had been primed and attracted to Enugu State before Ugwuanyi took office as the Governor and almost eight years in his tenure the Obollo-Afor VTA project is still a mere dream.

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