Shippers Council decries rail tracks vandalism

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council has expressed concern over the vandalism and theft of railway tracks connecting the Inland ports in the country.

The council’s Executive Secretary, Pius Akutah, raised the concern on Tuesday while inspecting the Funtua Inland Dry Port, Katsina State ahead of its inauguration.

According to him, the incessant cases of stealing the national assets along Lagos-Kaduna, Kaduna-Zaria, Zaria-Funtua and Kano have stalled the commencement of train transport of cargo from and to the hinterland ports.

Although the Funtua Inland Dry Port has commenced informal commercial conveyance of freight through heavy trucks on the road, however, the use of the train system is considered pivotal to cost-effectiveness, less risk and overall management of the dry port.

The council boss explained that the Federal Government is harnessing energy to overcome the challenges and ensure the railway system is connected to the Inland dry ports, urging an end to needless obstruction of government investment.

Akutah challenged the Katsina State Government and locals around the railway line to take ownership of the critical national assets, insisting that the Federal Government alone should not be responsible for protecting the entire facility within the states.

While applauding the efforts of Funtua Inland Dry Port concessionaires on the project so far, the NSC boss called on the management to intensify efforts on completion of the facility to meet the target set for inauguration.

Akutah alongside the management team of the council and Prof Busayo Akinlade, Technical Adviser to the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, were conducted around the facility and they cited a few lapses that should be urgently fixed.

Akutah noted, “We are here on the instruction of the minister to inspect the level of work done so far ahead of Mr President’s visit for the commissioning of the facility.

“The role of the ministry is to ensure the nation slides away from the oil-dependent economy and diversify in the area of the non-oil sector, especially in the blue sea sector.

“The development of Inland Dry Ports across the country is an initiative of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to bring import and export shipping into the hinterland thereby decongesting the seaport and advancing economic activities in the dry port.

“From what we have seen, the management of the dry port has done well because we know the project is capital intensive but we have also observed areas that needed to be improved on. For instance, you need to improve in the general clean up, furnishing of the offices, planting of flowers and recruitment of staff”,

The Managing Director, Funtua Inland Dry Port, Ahmad Ibrahim Dodo said the management has invested resources to officially kick start operations at the facility which is said to be 95 per cent ready for commissioning.

Dodo gave the leadership of the port regulator the assurance to fix all the recommendations and get the port ready for commission before the end of January.

Funtua Inland Dry Port has already been accredited as the port of origin and the destination has been scheduled for official flag-off by President Bola Tinubu by the first quarter of 2024.

Kehinde Olusegun

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