The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in building a bridge to facilitate trade defined ICD as "a common user facility with public authority status equipped with fixed installation and offering services for landing and temporary storage of export, laden and empty containers Carried Under Customs Control and with Customs and other agencies competent to clear goods for home use, warehousing, and export, temporary storage for onward transit and outright export".
It is an equivalent of a seaport located in the hinterland. It receives container by rail from the seaport for examination and clearance by Nigeria Customs Services. It has all the loading and off-loading equipment needed to handle container and general cargo.
The ICDs are expected to achieve the following amongst others:
- Bring shipping services to the door step of shippers across the nation
- Assist in decongesting the seaports and make them more user-friendly
- Help revive and modernize the railway as a primary mode for the long distance haulage of cargo
- Assist in the reduction of overall cost of transit cargo to Landlocked neighboring countries
The benefits of ICDs are:
- Establishment of customs clearance facility close to production and consumption centers
- Improved container usage and reduction in the movement of empty containers
- Improved turn around time of ships thereby reducing demurrage and avoiding pilferage
- Issuance of "Through Bill of Lading" by Shipping lines and thereby assuming liability from dispatch to destination ports
- Lower freight to increase trade flows
- Optimal use of surface transport and the decongestion of the sea ports
- Reduction in marine pollution activities around the seaport.
- Easy and safe access to international shipping facilities in the hinterland giving a boost to inland trading.
- Revitalization of export agriculture leading to multi-product economy and the avoidance of employment opportunities stemming urban-rural drift and increase in revenue to the government
- Rehabilitation of the surface transport system and enhanced usage of containers.
- Reducing the pressure on the roads and avoiding the carriage on the road.