By Gloria Ehiaghe
Nigeria recently launched a regime of conveying containers from her ports to various parts of the country via the rail when the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) inaugurated the maiden haulage of container-laden goods from Apapa port to the northern part of the country. The ceremony marking the flag-off of container movement to Kaduna and Kano also featured the commissioning of two brand -new 100 ton telescopic cranes and four newly -acquired 1800HP locomotives.
Reports say the last container-laden train left Apapa port in 1996, about 17 years ago and since then, the rail line leading meant to carry goods to the northern parts of the country have remained idle. This has contributed to the heavy congestion on the existing road network in various parts of the country especially in Lagos.
Inland Container Nigeria Limited (ICNL), a logistics firm, worked in partnership with APM Terminals Ltd to move the containers to the various owners in the north. According to the ICNL chairman, Mr. Tope Borishade, the exercise has led to a drastic reduction of the throughput of the company’s containers and has paved way for customers in the northern parts of the country to overcome challenges in receiving imported containers from Lagos.
“Our country is at a threshold of economic revival in anticipation of the operation of various dry port projects across the country”. He expressed confidence that existing challenges can be resolved “so that our great nation may derive maximum benefits from this landmark occasion”, Borishade said.
In his address, Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, represented by the chairman board of the NRC, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, stated that the commissioned projects are to reposition the rail transportation industry which will ultimately engender the economic wellbeing of Nigerians.
He stated that the railway transportation in Nigeria has been revived and has come to stay. He promised that before the year ends, two more locomotives will be added to the fleet together with about 200 additional wagons for the people and professionals who will be working, leading day and night railway services.
In his welcome address, the Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation, Mr Adeseyi Sijuwade said that the acquisition of these new facilities is part of the federal government’s continued and sustained drive at transforming the nation’s socio-economic development through a strong and formidable rail transport system.
“This day will go down in the annals of history of the corporation as a day we re-commenced NRC’s active participation in the lifting of container cargoes from the ports to the hinterland and in enhancing in the ports a decongestion drive”
According to him, the haulage of sugar, salt and other consumable products from Dangote Nigeria Limited with the active collaboration of ConnectRail Limited from Greenview Development Nigeria Limited has finally commenced.
The cranes which were manufactured in Germany by Kirow Ltd have a combined maximum lifting capacity of 100 tons at 7m radius and maximum reach of 19m of 45 tons.
On the security of the cargoes, police escorts accompanied the 20 of 40 units of containers moving to Kano and Kaduna by rail. The bonded containers cannot be opened until they reach their final destinations.
In his speech, Capt Iheanacho Ebubeogu, General Manager, public affairs department of the Nigerian Ports Authority, remarked that rail services traversing the Lagos city without hindrance completes the logistics which forms part of the global supply chain the port presents with its intermodal connectivity.
He stated further that the rail transportation network is going to have a positive impact on the economy. “If cargoes are received timely, then production line will carry its own aspect of it timely, the market will get their goods on time and because there’s no delay in delivery, then you shouldn’t expect all these expenses that are encumbered by delay to occur”.