The Federal Government has finally inaugurated the first cargo movement from the Lagos-Ibadan rail corridor after initial concern over the under-utilization of the standard gauge rail line 2 years after its commissioning.
The inauguration was performed by the Minister of Transportation, Saidu Alkali, during his first official tour of the rail corridor on Tuesday, September 12, 2023.
The minister kicked off the tour at the Ebute Meta station before proceeding to Apapa for the launch, then travelled to Ibadan using the 157 km rail corridor.
Three coaches of 30 wagons were loaded as the inaugural freight movement was kicked off.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) said it would start with 3 coaches per day with its Managing Director (MD) noting that the corporation had the capacity to scale up the numbers.
This effort is expected to decongest the Apapa port as shippers moved 92.28% of Nigeria’s total exports and 60.77 percent of imports through the facility in the first quarter of 2022 (Q1’22).
Recall that earlier in July, the NRC had announced that it would start the movement of freight from the Apapa ports to Moniya in Ibadan on August 1.
This development comes after the corporation encountered impediments in the complete linkage of the track to the Apapa Port quay, including a radioactive scanner belonging to the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
However, the NRC confirmed that the movement of containers will begin from August 1 and that the national railway network will be able to facilitate the movement of over 3.2 million tonnes of cargo per year.
President President Buhari had on June 10, 2021, formally inaugurated the $1.5 billion 157 kilometres Lagos Ibadan standard gauge railway line in Lagos, which was the first double-track standard gauge rail in West Africa after several delays and setbacks.