By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has raised a fresh alarm, saying that most of the over 1000 export containers trapped at Apapa port gate are now beginning to rotten away.
The Lagos District Manager of NTC, Mr Jerry Oche raised the concerns at a visit to Apapa port in Lagos last week.
He said the export containers lying at the port gate cannot gain access into the port because of congestion, as well as refusal of the terminal operators to receive back their empty containers.
Oche said most of NRC customers are now diverting their services to the use of barge, adding that one of his customers who had waited to get his export into the port by rail without any success, decided to transport it by barges for as high as N48million.
Uche said the barge operators have now taken over all operations of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, meanwhile barges were meant to complement the activities of the rail services.
He however blamed this on the attitude of terminal operators who usually do not allow the rail into their terminal except there is an available import for it to carry out of the terminals.
While ventilating his frustration, Oche said “We have more of exports now but we cannot bring them into the port because we dont have TDO’s (Terminal Delivery Order) going out of the port, TDO is for the cargoes going out of the port.
We cannot come into the port except we have cargo to take out”
“We have exports in our terminals that, because they cannot come in, everything inside the containers are already bad”
“Just last week, one of our customers had to move their export and it costs them over 48million to move them by barge”
“The way we are now, we are not helping anybody, but this SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) is an avenue for all players to cash in and save people the stress”
“The barges are doing more than NRC right now, we have the tracks, we have all the needs, the barge is supposed to support us, but now, we are supporting the barges, so something is wrong”
“Empty containers that we took out cannot come back to the port, importers are losing money, they have paid for the services in and out of the port, now there is demurrage on the containers, who is going to pay? I have people that are already out of business” he lamented