Chief Emeka Ofor is chairman, Inland Container Terminal Nig. Ltd [ICNL], a maritime services organization he established in 1980. The company was his response to the necessity for local participation and rapid development of the Nigerian maritime business. It was therefore packaged as a veritable intervention facilitator to assist the rapid industrialization and development of the hinterland. The company provides port services to the hinterland shipping communities in the country.

Ofor acted on the opportunity of Nigeria’s huge and rapidly growing international trade as a consumer nation and a crude oil exporter. That unique position of the country has made the maritime sector a key player in the economy.

There was increasing demand for effective maritime services by multinational organizations, government, local industries and individuals, which requires development of infrastructures and facilities as well as efficient services to support their operations. Ofor positioned his company as an effective response to meet these demands.

ICNL has become a major integrated shipping and logistics company in West Africa. It is engaged in shipping, port/bonded terminal operations, international/local logistics and freight/forwarding services. It is the operator of Kaduna Inland dry port – the first of its kind in Nigeria.

The company provides shipping agency services, freight forwarding and logistics in all the sea ports in Nigeria and beyond. It is a registered shipping company/agency with the Nigerian Ports Authority and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.

The company is licensed as customs agents and a member of Baltic International Maritime Council. Its other services include supply vessels, ship chandelling, armed guards supply, crew management, cash to master, TWP/TIP processing, chartering and brokerage.

ICNL has built a lot of expertise and experience in providing logistics services within the oil and gas industry. It lays claim to a crop of competent manpower at its command, which it developed through training and retraining as an inherent culture of the company’s shipping business.

The company operates bonded terminals in Kano and Kaduna, which were initially created by the federal government in the early 1980s to decongest the sea ports, reduce delays and improve turn round time of vessels at the harbours. The two container depots in Kano and Kaduna have a combined capacity of 8,000 Teu.

The terminals, which have the framework of full port operations, serve as a viable channel of supplying industrial raw materials, spares and agricultural materials for the development of hinterland states. ICNL has added its operating efficiency to the facilities, leading to the realisation of the national objective.

Through the bonded terminal operations, ICNL offers effective transfer of containers from seaports to the depots in Kano and Kaduna, thus minimising delays in Lagos. It has made clearing of cargo more convenient by reducing the documentation process and movement to final destination less cumbersome.

The company has developed a standard practice of clearing containers within 24 hours of arrival, beating the 48-hour target clearing at the seaports that is even unattainable. The company ensures effective and safe transit of bonded containers through the escorts customs officers to the depots. ICNL has operating license to effect transit of laden containers on bond either by road or rail.

The company also has a clearing and forwarding agency, which is a licensed customs agent. The agency was established to complement its activities in port operations and meet the needs of clients engaged in import and export trade. The company has built the capacity to control and monitor movement of goods from point of origin to final destination. This includes adequate security for goods in transit.

ICNL’s clearing and forwarding operations offer expertise in preparing and processing of customs documentations for imports and exports. This ensures minimum cost on demurrage and on time delivery in accordance with the customs import policy guideline.

The company also has a transportation and logistics arm, which was created to complement its port operations and clearing and forwarding services. The transportation and logistics arm provides the third leg of its strategic tripod upon which its capacity for efficient and on time delivery of goods is built. It operates on roads and rails and uses a tracking system to monitor and safeguard goods in transit.