The Ministry of Transportation has directed the Nigerian Railway Corporation to take stock of its assets at the Apapa Port, with a view to creating space for the station over the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project.
Rotimi Amaechi, the transportation minister gave the order Saturday, during an inspection tour of the site for the rail station which is part of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail corridor.
Amaechi said an audit of the railway properties became more compelling, following discoveries made during the inspection. The evaluation will help uncover the number of properties on lease, as well as the period of expiration.
“How can NRC acquire their own property? If all these properties are for NRC and were leased out, we need to know for how many years, if it has expired or not,” the minister said.
“Let us revalue it. If we are to get those properties for the stations, does it make economic sense or not; if it does not make economic sense we can leave it, we want to have a hotel and shopping mall there, just like the Ebute Meta station.
“They should not just do valuation but know the ownership of those properties. If we have leased them out, they have no choice but to pay. If the lease has expired, the owners don’t have a choice than to hand over the property to us but we have to do an audit first.”
While commenting on the issues militating against the use of rail to transport cargoes to Apapa port, Amaechi insisted that only the standard gauge lines could be deployed to increase the tonnes of cargoes that can be transported daily.
“We are yet to construct standard gauge that will function in that capacity. Until that happens, you can’t move enough cargoes,” he said.
“Currently, I hear we are moving about 200 to 300 thousand tonnes of cargoes in the year when we have about 30 million tonnes of cargoes and if we have about 30 millions tonnes of cargoes, we need to make sure that the tracks function properly to move more cargoes,” he stated.
The minister said the government would demolish two bridges in Lagos: one at Jibowu and the other at Costain. He pointed out that construction of the new bridges would be completed before the demolition “because Lagos is such a heavy economy that if you demolish without first of all constructing the alternative bridges you cause serious crisis with the traffic.”
Amaechi said the China Civil Engineering Construction Company had commenced with the Costain bridge, and that when they complete the construction and get the traffic relieved, then the old bridges would be demolished.
The managing director of NRC, Fidet Okhiria, pledged completion of the Apapa station within seven months.
He said those using the property at the Apapa station were only granted temporary licence, and that after the planned revaluation, those affected would hand over the property to NRC.