The Atlantic Marine and Engineering Services Limited (AMES) is investing N7 billion for the construction of an inland dry port in Benin City, Edo State to serve the South South, South East and parts of the North Central.
The Managing Direct of AMES Engr. Charles Akhigbe in an interview disclosed that when operations, the company will provide over 5,000 jobs and create more job opportunities for many Nigerians in companies providing ancillary services at the dry port.
Akhigbe said citing a dry port in Benin will make a very good socio economic sense as Edo State remains a logistic hub and being on the the ECOWAS trade routes.
The AMES boss explained that the dry port has been designed to hold 20,000 containers at a time with phase one holding 12,000 and phase two 8,000 with offices for Customs, quarantine and other agencies expected at the port when ready.
According to Engr. Akhigbe, when constructed, shippers and industrialists will have no business going to Lagos as their goods will be transported by their agents through the inland port.
“One of the advantage why an inland dry port is important is that, shippers and industrialists absolutely do not have to come to Lagos any more, the freight forwarders and the shippers, it is their responsibility to bring the containers inland through whatever by inter-modal means they chose, maybe by sea, road or rail, now because we know Edo state does not have a rail link but we know that mist containers move by road but again, there are seaports around us like the Warrior port, Koko port which is more closer to us.”
He explained that construction of the project has reached 80 percent while working with the Nigerian Shippers Council, ICRC and Federal Ministry of Transportation to ensure that the project meets its targeted time.
Akhigbe said in preparation for take off AMES has gone into agreement with farmers oasis and Free On Board international logistics.
He remarked that based on the agreement reached with these organizations to commence dedicated export warehouses, it will be processing and packaging for export a minimum of a 100 tonnes daily.
According to Akhigbe, 80 percent of the construction work has been achieved in the five years concession to complete and commission the project.
“Last year we were invited by the Federal Ministry of transport to the project steering committee to give them an update on the status of the project, my colleagues, Edo state Government officials we were all in Abuja for a one day visit, we met with the steering committee and presented the status of the project and so since then, there had been a renewed vigor and effort by the Federal Ministry if transport to ensure that AMES Edo inland dry port gets the necessary approvals.”
He explained that the project which will be on Build Operate and Own basis will be ready in the next two years and will generate revenue for both state and federal government.
Managing Director, Farmers Oasis Resources Limited, Odianonse Isaac Ebewele said with the inland dry port their target is to take Nigeria food to the world, adding that any part of the world one gets to Nigeria foods will be available for consumption.
Explaining further, he noted that with this initiative, Nigeria can grow its foreign exchange and limit reliance for forex on CBN and stop wastages of farmers produce across the country.
“If I need anything from Europe, I don’t need to go to CBN for forex, I rather go to my farmer to grow my forex, what do I mean by that, I want to import for example a dehydrator or a refrigerated van which we don’t produce in Nigeria instead of applying to CBN for foreign exchange, I go to my farm, I grow vegetables after 8-12 weeks I beg to harvest the vegetables, I send to Europe and they pay in foreign currencies with that I can choose to import whatever I want or I bring that foreign currencies to Nigeria.”
To achieve this, he said, “The roof is farmers Oasis and the building blocks are AMES, Bush UK, Nigeria but our foundation is our network of farmers that are spread across Nigeria.”
Pastor Ademola Ajibulu, Managing Director, Bush produce global network Limited based in the ancient city of Ibadan, Oyo state emphasized that this partnership would not only be a win-win for investors but also for the State and Federal government.
He said their work is to assist the poor farmers to develop their produce and understand what they are suppose to do for the international markets, adding that as a link they serve as conception to delivery.
“We tell them what to do, we discover there is nothing wrong with our produce but the way they handle them. When I traveled to the United States, I was able to convince them that Nigeria ginger is the best in the world and even our snails. Taking snails to the UK is in shell form but to the US we have to process it, so those are parts of the thing we do.”