By DAPO OLAWUNI
A board member of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and Executive Vice Chairman of the defunct Presidential Task Team on Apapa Gridlock, Dr Kayode Opeifa has blamed the inefficiency of terminal operators as reasons why rail line evacuation of cargoes from Apapa port is not well utilised.
According to him, the train transports only 20 containers into the port per day, and it takes between eight hours to eight days for the cargoes to be discharged.
Opeifa stated this at the just concluded 3rd National Transport Summit of the Chattered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIOTA) while delivering a paper titled Technical and Economic Regulation of Rail Transport in Nigeria.
While speaking earlier with journalists on the sideline of the event, the former Commissioner of Transportation for Lagos State blamed the traffic congestion around the port on poor efficiency level of terminal operators and poor management of port access road by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)
He however revealed that there is an ongoing plan to connect the Tin Can Island Port by rail in order to reduce traffic congestion along the port corridor.
Speaking during his presentation, he said “On utilisation of rail, I want to correct an impression, rail goes to Apapa port as of today, as soon as the port was developed, there was a rail system, and I can tell you that the train moves cargoes to Apapa port on daily basis”
“I was there for eighteen months to clear the traffic gridlock. When they were constructing the standard gauge line, for safety reasons they had to slow down operations”
“Secondly, the port has challenges, there is problem inside the port when the train brings a cargo, this is why they are doing only 20 containers per day, when the train brings a cargo, it takes eight hours to eight days before the terminal can offload the containers, this is because the ports have been concessioned”
“These are issues for the ICRC, during the concessioning process, we need to look at it as a throughput”
“This is what deprived Nigeria Railway Service moving as much cargo into the port, but the Hon Minister is already working to address that”
“The government is also now trying to move a rail line from Apapa port into the Tin Can Island Port, the design is about to be completed”
“But as of today, there is one track that goes into ABTL Terminal which is flourmill owned, at ENL the new standard gauge have not reached there because there is a construction problem, the scanner of customs was hindering it and that is why standrad gauge has not gotten there, but as of today, train goes into Apapa with cargo, the problem is inside the port” he maintained
Opeifa told journalists earlier that the problem from the Tin Can Port axis is still from inside the port.
“There is a road inside the port they call the ‘port access road’, when they are talking of port access road, they are not talking of expressway, the port access road is managed by NPA, if they cannot manage their access road inside the port, the problem would show outside.
“The same thing is playing out at Apapa Port, go inside the port, there is what we call port access road of over 1kilometer, if you don’t manage that access road, you would create problems outside the gate, this is what the Minister said about inefficiency inside the port”
Opeifa said there needs to be improvement in the efficiency of port terminal operators, especially in terms of technology.
“Believe me, these terminal operators have done a lot, they have introduced technology but it is a multiuser port where different companies are managing, so there has to be a lot of integration, this is why we need the Single Window.
“When the single window works, the Call up system seats on it” he said