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Two years after, freight services on Lagos-Ibadan train stall

There is a rising concern over under-utilisation of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line two years after commissioning as the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) is…

There is a rising concern over under-utilisation of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line two years after commissioning as the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) is yet to commence evacuation of cargos from the ports, Daily Trust can report.

This was due to some impediments, which have stalled the complete linkage of the track to the Apapa Port quay.

One of the impediments is a radioactive scanner belonging to the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), which is yet to be removed as of press time.

But the Managing Director of the NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria who confirmed to our correspondent that the building is yet to be removed said the corporation has decided to divert the track temporarily pending when the building would be removed.

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He did not however state when the track would begin to evacuate cargo.

Daily Trust reports that former President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2021, ordered for the commencement of passenger services.

While passenger service has since commenced, the rail line is yet to be fully linked with the seaport due to the impediment close to the APMT.

“The working space for the transitional line at Apapa APMT is not yet provided up till now. According to the work programme, this space will be provided on 4th July 2021 by the APMT.

“The demolition of the customs building is yet to commence and it is delaying our next step in construction work,” a deputy managing director of CCECC and the Project Manager, Mr. Xia Lijun once said.

According to him, while passenger service has continued since commissioning, to make a profit in the operation of the track, freight service must resume.

Daily Trust reports that the national railway network to which Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge has been designed to facilitate the movement of over 3.2 million tonnes of cargo per annum but very little freight services are ongoing at the moment.

‘How three ministers failed to remove impediments’

Three former Ministers of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Rukayyah Gbemisola Saraki and Muazu Sambo at different times vowed to resolve the Apapa crisis, which they failed to achieve before the expiration of their tenure.

As far back as April 2021, Amaechi had met with stakeholders at the port where it was agreed that some structures would have to give way for the passage of the track and said works were ongoing to devise the best engineering solutions to facilitate removal of the impediments.

Also in June last year, Senator Saraki as a minister after the exit of Amaechi to contest the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) assured that the impediment would be removed in a month.

“We want to ensure that before the end of next month, the activities here have improved. By the end of this month, we want to ensure that the removal of this customs facility, which is on the rail track, is resolved. The goal is to have this track operational by the end of this month.

“Although this building looks big, it is actually a minor issue that will be resolved by the time the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) sit together to discuss it.”

Similarly, Sambo was appointed the minister in charge of transportation while Saraki was moved to mines and steel development and the issue also came up without being resolved until the end of the Buhari’s administration.

NRC moves to put the track to use

It was however learnt that the NRC had devised a temporary measure to commence the movement of cargoes in and outside the ports on the standard gauge.

The NRC Director of Operations, Mr. Niyi Ali in a chat with our correspondent said cargo movement would commence within the next two weeks all things being equal.

He said, “We can start carrying cargo from the port. What is delaying us is the access road at Moniya (Ibadan), which has now been completed. Very soon, we will start evacuating cargos from the ports to Ibadan.

“The temporary line allows us to move cargo in and out of APMT using a standard gauge. Remember, there was this talk about the temporary line going on so that we can at least start the operation. The customs issue is still a matter for the project.”

He disclosed that the freight yard at Moniya is almost ready where cargoes containing different products would be evacuated to.


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