Freight haulage resumptiom from Apapa port stalls
…transport minister insists Lagos-Kano project must be ready 2023
Movement of containers by rail out of the Apapa port complex with high stockpile of containers awaiting collection which will linger more than next February cargo and passenger movement resumption date as a result of the slow pace of work by the the Chinese Civil Engineering & Construction Corporation (CCECC) contractors handling the five kilometre standard gauge rail link extension between Ebutte-Metta and the Apapa seaport complex.
The slow pace of work has remained a major concern to Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria’s transport minister who had on many occasions during his recent inspection tours queried the CCECC on why no substantial progress has been made.
Amaechi noted that, the snail pace of work started shortly after the federal executive council was dissolved before the 2019 general elections. This is raising concerns as to the completion of the remaining final segments of the project with the second segment beginning from Ibadan to Kano.
Nigeria Railway Corporation had September 30, 2019 shut down passenger and cargo movement services from the Apapa port to Ebute Metta as result of the ongoing formation and alignment ongoing project work being carried out by CCECC.
In a chat with BusinessDay transport reporter, Jerry Oche, the Lagos rail districy manager (RDM) confirmed that as at the time of filing this report, no passenger or freight train services is operating from Apapa as project work is still inprogress on the new standard gauge track, even as the old decrepit narrow gauge is to underway complete refurbishment.
‘’According to the RDM, ‘’When we start, we will try to increase both the passenger and cargo service frequencies. We are also hopeful that, the standard gauge will soon be ready and that will also help in decongesting Apapa’’.
Meanwhile, properties said to be belonging to the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) including the old railway yard inside the Apapa seaport complex and buildings located the rail compound near the Ebute Metta Junction (EBJ) occupying the identified right of way (RoW) has been pulled down to pave the way for the standard gauge rail line formation by the CCECC.
The proposed demolition of some parts of Floor Mills located on the railway properties is yet to commence as at last week when our reporter visited as a result because of the slow pace of demolition exercise. No exact date will given either by the minister, the NRC authorities of the contractors on when the project will be completed.
As result of the snail speed, Amaechi held several stakeholders meeting at different times between the chairman of CCECC, the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and TEAM Nigeria which is the technical advisers of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge to address some of the challenges sbetween Ebutte Metta and inside the port complex.
The minister explained that, the slow pace of work currently is between Ebutte-Metta and Apapa port complex where he regretted that the contractors has ben giving all sorts of excuses and that a result a meeting will take place between him and management of CCECC.
Containers upsurge inside the Apapa port complex, worsened by the shut down in containerised train services from the Apapa port and other contributory factors may not be unconnected to the recent directive ordering vessels which could not secure berthing space at Apapa and Tin-Canports to go and discharge at the Eastern ports.
The new directive if followed by the shipping compnies will boost business activities at the eartern ports and reduce the waiting time of vessels calling at the Lagos port complex. The new directive as contained in a statement signed by Jatto Adams, general manager, corpoaret and strategic vommunications, Nigerian Ports Authority started this week Monday.