Ahead of the completion of the Apapa track of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge, scores of importers, exporters, as well as many businesses, have indicated interest to convey their goods from the nation’s premier port to the hinterland, findings by Daily Trust have shown.
Our correspondent reports that the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Rukayyah Saraki, had during an inspection of the project last week disclosed that the rail linkage would be completed by the end of this month to enable freight service on the line.
The minister said the scanner belonging to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) would be demolished to clear way for the completion of the track.
Following the revelation, it was gathered that many corporate entities have inundated the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) with inquiries on the freight service.
Daily Trust further reports that clearing of containers at the port takes weeks, in some cases months, owing to congestion, coupled with the poor state of access roads in Apapa.
But business owners will soon heave a sigh of relief ahead of the completion of the Apapa end of the standard gauge railway which would enable massive movement of cargoes from the port to the hinterland.
The NRC Manager for Lagos District, Engr Augustine Arisa, in a chat with newsmen at the weekend, confirmed that a lot of Nigerians were interested in the commencement of freight service on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge.
This was just as he also confirmed that the NRC had suspended the Lagos-Kano weekly train service over insecurity while reducing the Lagos-Ibadan train service to two daily movements due to reduced passenger flow and high cost of diesel.
He said many corporate entities had approached the NRC to assist them in lifting their containers to and from the ports as soon as the standard gauge was completed.
He explained that, “The cargo movement will commence in two weeks as the minister said, and since the minister inspected the project and the assurance, many Nigerians have been contacting us to make enquiry on the freight service.”
Our correspondent reports that when completed, it will complement the existing freight service on the old narrow gauge which carries two rakes of containers on a daily basis. A rake contains no fewer than 19 containers.
Arisa further said, “In a day we carry up to one rake which has 19 40-feet containers at a go, plus one locomotive. Sometimes we carry more than one rake. So what this means is that instead of 19 trucks going into the court, we have decongested the APMT.
“I can tell you the use of trains to ferry goods is the best. Our rates are cheaper while the volume of containers you can carry is higher.”