By Silas Onuoha
The Honourable Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo has declared Funtua Inland Dry Port as Port of Origin and Final Destination. He made this declaration at the official declaration ceremony of the inland dry port on Thursday, February 2nd 2023 at the facility site in funtua, katsina state.
Sambo also said that the Funtua Inland Dry Port will possess all prerequisites of an International Port and called on international maritime practitioners to take full advantage of the facility.
“In the exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 30 of the Nigerian Ports Authority Act, Cap. N126 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and all other powers enabling me as the Honourable Minister of Transportation hereby declare the Funtua Inland Dry Port as a Port of Origin and Final Destination with effect from 2nd February 2023 to commence full operations.
“By this declaration, the Dry Port shall have all the prerequisites of an International Port including Customs, Immigration, Port Health Officials and all relevant Government Agencies approved to operate in a port.
“I call on National and International maritime practitioners, Shippers, Shipping Companies, landlocked countries and port users to take full advantage of this facility for importing and exporting their cargoes.” He said.
Sambo also commended the Katsina State Governor, Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Masari for his hospitality adding that he felt highly honoured by the reception.
He added that the importance of Katsina State as the commercial domain in the Trans-Saharan trade route with huge agricultural trade in local and export volumes is well documented.
“Permit me to say that the State has been ranked in agricultural products and other businesses in the country as the largest producer of cotton, second largest producer of sorghum and produces 13% of Nigeria’s sugarcane.
“Placing it in second place in Nigeria, the World Bank ranked the State 7th in ease of doing business ahead of Lagos, Kano, Rivers and Cross Rivers,” he said.
While eulogizing the state, Sambo said Katsina State ranks 12th in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) development and growth.
“The State was ranked 17th in Gross State Product with an average per capita of $6,022; major producer of other cereals and legume crops and several manufacturing industries not only suited but most qualified for an Inland Dry Port,” he said.
The Honourable Minister further revealed that the Inland Dry Port Project was conceived as part of the Federal Government’s Ports reform programme designed to among others; decongest the seaports, while also taking shipping and port services closer to importers and exporters in the hinterland.
He said in March 2006, the Federal Executive Council approved the establishment of the critical transport infrastructure at chosen locations across the country to be concessioned to private sector operators on Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) with a strategic framework to Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model.
“Funtua Container Freight Station at Funtua in Katsina State was among the facilities approved and was concessioned to Messrs Equatorial Marine Oil & Gas Limited.
“It is worthy of note that as a result of the zeal of the Federal Ministry of Transportation to ensure that Inland Dry Ports and Container freight stations are operational nationwide, a Ministerial Implementation Committee chaired by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation was constituted to see to the realization of the facility at Funtua, to look at the challenges militating against its development since 2006 and find out a workable solution to make it fully operational. However, this project that started years ago has now come to fruition.
“It is worthy to state that the Funtua Container Freight Station which has now been converted to an Inland Dry Port shall be a Customs port in accordance with the provisions of the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap. C45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and shall have all the prerequisites of an international port,” he said.
He praised the Governor for his commitment to huge investment in infrastructural development in the road networks among other social amenities which he said made the Funtua Inland Dry Port a reality.
Sambo subsequently urged the Concessionaire to continue to invest in the facility to provide efficient service to dry port users and remain competitive among other dry ports.
“While the facility is expected to be commissioned soonest, you are advised to liaise with the Ministry and Nigerian Shippers’ Council for the deployment of relevant Government Agencies for the commencement of operation as a Dry port,” he said.