NRC, ship­pers count loses over Apapa haulage shut down

Business Day (Nigeria) - - TRANSPORTA­TION - MIKE OCHONMA

Nigerian Rail­way Cor­po­ra­tion (NRC) rev­enue gen­er­a­tion pro­file is ex­pected to drop dras­ti­cally in the next two months fol­low­ing the planned re­sump­tion of stan­dard gauge project yes­ter­day from the Ebutte Metta Junc­tion of the Nigerian Rail­way Cor­po­ra­tion (NRC) link­ing into the Apapa sea­port by Chi­nese Civil En­gi­neer­ing & Con­struc­tion Cor­po­ra­tion (CCECC).

Rail to port and port to rail freight haulage op­er­a­tions on the old nar­row gauge tracks by the NRC was of­fi­cially sus­pended yes­ter­day to en­able Chi­nese Civil En­gi­neer­ing & Con­struc­tion Cor­po­ra­tion (CCECC) re­sume work along the cor­ri­dor which was ear­lier sus­pended dur­ing the out of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Apart from the enor­mous rev­enue loss that will be recorded by the NRC, oth­ers like APM Ter­mi­nal with a larger chunk of rail con­nec­tiv­ity for freight move­ment, ENL and Dan­gote group and other cor­po­rate or­gan­i­sa­tions will also have to pay more by road for the move­ment of containers in and out of the Apapa port when com­pared what it costs to trans­port it by rail.

In to­tal, there are six rakes of wag­ons that can carry ei­ther 19 units of 40 feet containers or 38 units of 20 feet containers out of Apapa for dif­fer­ent ship­ping com­pa­nies. The NRC was op­er­at­ing two shifts daily at some point, but had to drop to one trip a daily as a re­sult of the coro­n­avirus scourge.

Due to com­plete sus­pen­sion of freight move­ment that will last be­tween Septem­ber 15 and Novemver 14, Jerry Oche, La­gos re­gional dis­trict man­ager (RDM) said, the NRC will be en­ter­ing into an­other phase of rev­enue squeeze.

This is com­ing at a time when the new Warri-itakpe stan­dard gauge rail cor­ri­dor is yet to com­mence op­er­a­tions as well as the Abu­jaKaduna stan­dard gauge rail line that is des­ig­nated strictly for pas­sen­ger ser­vices.

While the RDM de­clined to es­ti­mate the ex­act amount the NRC will lose within the pe­riod of freight haulage shut­down, he said, the loss in rv­enue will will be enor­mous.

Checks by Busi­ness­day re­veal that through­out the 60 days pe­riod when the stan­dard gauge con­struc­tion by the Chi­nese com­pany will last, there are spec­u­la­tions that, the lo­co­mo­tives used for the wag­ons may be de­ployed to com­ple­ment the mass tran­sit train ser­vices (MTTS) re­turn trip op­er­a­tions from the Iddo to Ijoko ter­mi­nals.

Dur­ing the last in­spec­tion tour of the project by Ro­timi Amaechi, Nige­ria’s min­is­ter of trans­porta­tion, the CCECC project team said that, there are plans to shut­down the nar­row gauge line from Septem­ber 15 to Novem­ber 14, 2020 to en­able com­mence project works from the Ebute Metta Junc­tion (EBJ) to link Apapa sea­port. The rail line ex­ten­sion to Apapa was an ad­den­dum to the $1.5 bil­lion La­gos-ibada stan­dard gauge. The suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion will fast track move­ment of cargo by rail, re­duce the pres­sure from the road as a well as al­low free traf­fic flow within Apapa which has be­come a na­tional em­bar­rass­ment over the years.

Ro­timi Amaechi

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