Last Thursday in Lagos, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the Lagos-Ibadan railway for commercial operations. With this, passengers, and goods are expected to move directly by rail from Apapa port to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Ibadan, Oyo State.
Apart from serving as a mode of transportation for both passengers and freight, the resuscitated railway, is expected to help bring relief to Apapa metropolis as a portion of import and export goods will now move by rail to the hinterland.
Also, the rail is expected to help reduce the alarming rate of congestion in port terminals by eliminating the persistent traffic gridlock on roads leading to seaports in Lagos, which always remain clogged due to hundreds of trucks and tankers queuing on the road to have access into the port or tank farms.
It would enable stainable and seamless cargo evacuation as stakeholders had in the past called for rail deployment in cargo evacuation in order to enhance port efficiency. It will also help to bring down the high cost of transporting containers from the port to the importer’s warehouse, a cost that had skyrocketed in the past months.
Pundits believed that allowing all cargoes go on the road, keeps Apapa roads in a clog state.
Having a port that only evacuates cargo by road is inefficient, and will continue to create congestion, said Tony Anakebe, a renowned maritime analyst.
According to him, a certain percentage of cargoes that come into Nigeria must be moved through alternative transport system such as railway to enable seamless evacuation.
On his part, Jonathan Nicol, president of Shippers Association of Lagos State, insists that Nigerian ports cannot function well, if 90 percent of import and export cargoes are moved by road.
He said there is need for Nigerian importers to make use of alternative mode such as the railway to evacuate goods.
Economically, he noted, this would reduce cost for shippers and huge revenue loss to congestion on the road.
Rail line establishes end-to-end logistic supply chain as goods would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa port quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country, said Mr. President during the commissioning.
This, according to the President, would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business especially for the people of landlocked countries situated around Nigerian borders.
It is also expected that in addition to this, Federal Government would ensure that the rail network is extended to Kano from Ibadan, and that there is connection to the Tin-Can Island Port as well to relieve Apapa.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) says it planned to begin full operation of the standard gauge railway service from Lagos to Ibadan last Tuesday, 15 June 2021.
Jerry Oche, Lagos District Manager, said in a statement that there is an updated time table for train movement from Tuesday to Friday.