BusinessDay

Apapa: NRC opens discussion with Dangote, ENL Consortium to begin new service lines

… sets to restore long haul cargo evacuation to Kaduna            

Determined to ameliorate the plight of port users due to persistent traffic jam on roads going into and out of Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in Lagos State, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) says it has opened discussions with Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GDNL), the port arm of Dangote Group, through a third party arrangement, to begin a new service line that would involve cargo evacuation from its terminal.

In the same line, the NRC is also discussing with the management of ENL Consortium Limited to begin evacuation of cargoes from the terminal that handles mostly bulk cargoes.

“We just did a letter to ENL and we would follow up with visit. We have rail track to ENL. We have written ENL to say that we want to take possession of our track and that we are also ready to service them and NRC has done things with them in the past,” Jerry Oche, Railway District Manager Lagos, discloses.

Oche, who spoke in an interview with BusinessDay his Lagos office, says the NRC is also in discussion with GDNL terminal through a third party to start up something big with Dangote port operations.

Oche, who refused to give details of the discussion, states it is still about trying to serve them through a third party, and that is going to be a very innovative thing that has not been done before, when it commences.

According to Oche, the cargo evacuation arrangement with Dangote would bring relief to port users because hundreds of Dangote trucks ply Apapa roads on daily basis, but with train service, a lot of trucks would be removed from the road leading to Apapa. “This service opening would impact positively on Apapa traffic.”

He however states that the NRC has track that passes through Flour Mill but right now the corporation is not doing anything with Flour Mill.

On long hauling of cargoes to Northern part of Nigeria, he says the corporation is considering resuming Kano and Kaduna rail freight in no distance time, since the Federal Government has relaxed interstate travel ban.

He however states that passenger service would not be resumed any moment owing to the safety issues around the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic.

“Government just relaxed interstate travel ban and we are looking at resuming Kaduna- Kano rail for freight but for passenger, we are not ready to start because there are a lot of safety issues to put in place. The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 has given so many conditions for passenger train to resume and we have been working behind the scene to meet up with those protocols. Any moment from now, we will begin our long haul train services to the North,” he says.

He however lists the four terminals the NRC is visiting now to include Niger- Rail at Iddo, Oyinbo, Ajuba, Idie, and Ijoko in Ogun State, adding that the corporation is looking at using the terminal at Ijoko for exports going to the port.

“Since we resumed train services from Apapa port, we have been able to move nothing less than eight trips of export goods, which could amount to about 150 to 160 containers of export goods. Most export comes in 20-foot container and as a matter of fact, we have done more export because of exigency and based on the fact that most of them have been on ground for so long,” he discloses.

Reacting to this, Tony Anakebe, managing director of Gold-Link Investment Limited, a clearing and forwarding company, says the move will help in eliminating the congestion problem in Apapa.

He points to the fact that trucks will be permanently moved out of Apapa roads while gridlock becomes a thing of the past, as many trucks will now relocate to Inland Container Depots to take delivery of their consignments.

“The economic benefits of having an effective rail system will be huge for importers because it will not only reduce the cost of transporting goods but also reduce the volume of damages on transit cargoes that upturned on the way to the importers’ warehouses due to bad roads,” he notes.

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