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FG flags off freight services on Apapa-Ibadan cargo rail | Lagos-Kano to begin soon

FG flags off freight services on Apapa-Ibadan cargo rail | Lagos-Kano to begin soon
September 13
11:28 2023

Saidu Alkali, the minister of transportation, has inaugurated cargo movement on the single-gauge rail (SGR) from the Apapa port to Ibadan.

Alkali inaugurated the project during his first official tour of the Lagos-Ibadan rail corridor on Tuesday.

The minister kicked off the tour at the Ebute Meta station before proceeding to Apapa for the launch, and then to Ibadan over the 157-kilometer rail track.

Alkali flagged off the freight train loaded with 30 wagons (containers) to Ibadan from the Apapa Port Complex.

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WE’VE ALWAYS CLAMOURED FOR DIFFERENT MODES OF CARGO

Reacting to the development, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in a post on X, said it always clamoured for “different modes of cargo evacuation out of the ports to lessen the burden on road transportation”. 

The authority said other alternatives are rail and barge operations.

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“We are excited about the launch of the single-gauge rail linking Apapa Port to Ibadan,” NPA said.

“In one year, the narrow-gauge rail received 1,886 TEUs of cargo deliveries, 3,640 TEUs of export cargo, 262 TEUs of empty.”

With the SGR, cargo evacuation would be faster and more efficient, the ports authority said.

HAULAGE ON NARROW GUAGE ON LAGOS-KANO CORIDOR TO BEGIN IN 3 MONTHS

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Meanwhile, the minister said the freight wagon haulage on the narrow gauge from Lagos to Kano will begin in the next three months.

Alkali spoke when he visited the Kajola Wagon Assembly Plant in Ogun state.

He said the railway corporation was using a standard gauge to carry cargo from Lagos to Ibadan, but will begin the operation from Apapa to Kano in three months’ time.

The minister said the federal government had already fixed the narrow gauge from Lagos to Kano, and will now get some locomotives and wagons to take containers from Apapa and move them to Kano.

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“Once we evacuate containers from Lagos, we will use the narrow gauge to move them to Kano,” Alkali said.

The minister directed Fidet Okhiria, managing director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), to look into the cleanliness of the coaches in order to enhance patronage on railways.

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FREIGHT RAIL CHARGES HIGHER THAN ROAD MOVEMENT

On his part, Okhiria said the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NCS), being the port regulator, and the former minister of transportation, set up a ministerial committee headed by the former permanent secretary of the ministry of transportation, to look into freight charges.

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He said the committee was created to ensure a smooth operation of freight rail.

“The impact on NRC is that the terminals are charging 60, 000 per containers for moving the container to the wagon freight, which is still higher than the movement on trucks, and the Shippers’ Council is working on that,” he said.

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“The terminal charges are high because of the double handling; presently, moving cargo by rail is more expensive than road but is faster.

“We are looking to see how we can do it, we have minimum operational cost, and we don’t need to go and borrow money to buy diesel, that is why we are starting the freight rail movement of cargo handling now.”

Okhiria said the NRC had started the freight rail movement from the port pending when they receive orders from the minister to reduce charges.

WHY OPERATING RAIL FREIGHT ON NARROW GUAGE WAS STOPPED

He said the NRC was operating the rail freight on the narrow gauge before now, but stopped due to security issues.

According to Okhiria, the corporation would use a month to repair all the vandalised tracks on the narrow gauge, adding that the management would also assemble all the wagons and service them before putting them on track.

The managing director said NRC had about 120 narrow gauge wagons, adding that the federal government had been proactive as the corporation had placed orders through the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC).

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