• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Apapa Rail to drive favourable trade balance for Nigeria upon completion

Apapa Rail

Executive secretary of the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) said the Apapa rail upon completion would boost the country’s exportation and provide favourable trade balance. The council while stating the significance of the Apapa rail, lamented Nigeria’s Import to exportation ratio at 8:4 which it described as as a poor performance.

In an interview with BusinessDay in Abuja, Hassan Bello, lamented that with about 63 export products, Nigerians lack of infrastructures makes Exporting difficult and expensive compared to other countries. He said “when Apapa rail begins operation, congestion will disappear, the cost will crash, there will be efficiency and we would attract more cagoes”

“The issue is that when we import like 800,000 containers per annum, there must be a different way of evacuating them. But we also want these containers when they come loading, they should not go empty. The ratio now is 8:4. for every container now that comes in, only 4 go out loaded. all others are empty containers. this is risky, it shows we are not trading well, we are not exporting well.

“We want to ensure that every container that comes in, goes back loaded not emty, that means we would have favourable terms of trade with other countries.”
Considering the fall back in oil price and the countries export potentials, Bello noted that the Apapa rail Infrastructure would cut down cost of exportation, simplify processes and give Nigeria a competitive advantage.

“Let’s improve our infrastructures and processes so that we can export. If we have exports, Nigeria will not depend on oil anymore. We would have good trade, and logistics, access to market and finance, simplification and digitalization of process”

“We have introduced rail service, about four Troup has been done and that will ease the congestion. we have the standard gauge into Apapa. The roads are being done now, by March 2021 crick, and Liverpool would have been completed and most importantly the road linking to Tincan, Oshodi, will be delivered. that would be a relief. when we have rail, inland waterways and roads, the congestion will disappear, the cost will crash, there will be efficiency and we would attract more cagoes’’

While stating the importance of the Apapa rail, Bello said for everything trips, 38trucks are taken off the road. He disclosed that the shippers council is also concentrating on other modes especially the inland water ways where batches would be used to deliver or clear Cargoes from the rail.

“Rail will solve a lot of problems chief of which having multiple modes of delivery and evacuation of Cargoes. We have relied until recently on roads alone with dangerous consequences; access to the port is denied especially for export cargoes, this has led to delay, loss of revenue, loss of manpower.”

rail is faster, cheaper and reliable and more certain. We have 300, 000 metric tons of cargoes from Lagos to Kano, tho and back and that exclude the export, so you can see the improvement in our logistic chains so we can haul cagoes from Kaduna, Kano, Aba, Enugu and other places towards the sea for export”

He also revealed that the Nigeria shippers council is looking at standard operating procedure for export and as well as a port community system whereby there would be a one stop shop for export including the inspection, availability of produce to export.

Bello said “ we are even talking of agric based export. if you have agric based export, we have to add value. We shouldn’t export them in their raw form, let’s process it, that will bring employment opportunities and be more beneficial to us.

“We had a meeting with lots of produce association,coca ginger, rubber and other products to see where we have comparative advantage and then push further” he concluded.

Meanwhile, Simon Irytwange, President, National Association of Yam farmers, processors and Marketers speaking on the challenges of exporters in the country said access to the rail is a major issue that would be addressed by the rail system.

He further explained that Nigeria’s exportation would gain a favourable balance if all forms of delays are taken off to help exporters meet with delivery time.

“We cannot access the port easily, and not as if we don’t have what we can give to other countries, even if it is yam alone, we have so much yam for exportation but the difficulty we have with exportation is the gridlock terminal into Apapa.

“If the rail help us aggregate our produce mainland and move it straight into Apapa without any gridlock, that would be a very great opportunity for exporters of Agricultural produce in Nigeria.

“When Ships leave the United Kingdom and other countries into Nigeria, they come fully loaded, but when they are going back they go back empty. When these Ships carry our produce, instead of going back straight to the East, they will go up to North Africa to get their ship fully loaded. This is what most of the ships do and it has been affecting our delivery time.

Speaking on the adverse effect of Nigerians lack of rail Transport on exportation, an export consultant, and Managing Director Multi-Mix Academy, Madu Obiora, said Nigerians rating in the global logistics performance index of the world Bank is very low because of the lack of access to port.

He explained “The rating is usually based on these 6 pillars:access to the port, infrastructure, quality of service, ease of bringing things in and out of the country, timeliness. To keep to the timeline, an exporter uses batch to take his containers into the sea. The rail will help a great deal to reduce the cost. “

“Exporters have suffered in Nigeria and the absence of rail is part of the challenge they face. The deficit of this infrastructure makes the cost of exportation high. To move a container of ginger from Katsina or Kafanchan to Lagos is so prohibitive. That is why across the season, you will find time when the domestic price for a particular commodity is higher than the international market price. Rail gives competitive advantage over roads.” He concluded.