By FIDELIS UGBOMEH, Abuja
As part of the effort to meet increasing demand for freight services, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) is currently assisting terminal operators in the evacuation of goods to a loading bay at Ebute-Metta junction as the Corporation receives 15 enquiries on freight daily.
The Corporation has also designed a booking system to ensure that goods are freighted on schedule. Director of Operations, NRC Niyi Alli who dropped this hint recently in Lagos declared that the Corporation is bracing up to meet demand for freight services by existing and prospective customers.
According to Alli, the Corporation currently evacuates about 800 tons of cargo every week which translates to between 5,000 to 6000 tons of cargo every month. He explained further that Management of the Corporation is working closely with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and terminal operators to ensure that volume of cargo transported by rail from the port is increased.
According to him, the Corporation is currently assisting in the evacuation of goods to a loading bay at Ebute-Junction Lagos for onward transfer with forklift to waiting trucks due the traffic gridlock at Apapa.
Alli disclosed that presently the Corporation evacuates flower, metal rods, pipes, fertilizers and containers from Lagos ports to the northern parts of the country even as export goods are evacuated in the wagons to the ports.
Regarding the transportation of fuel from the Lagos to the north, he said that discussion between management of the corporation and the major oil marketers has reached an advanced stage.
He was however quick to add that petrol is highly inflammable adding that the major oil marketers would need to invest in the upgrading of the depots at Apapa so as to facilitate commencement of the transportation of fuel by rail.
The director operations disclosed that the Corporation has about 40 pressurized tank wagons of 45 liters each in its fleet that can meet the demand of major oil marketers. Alli posited that the purchase of 25 locomotive engines in 2010 and rehabilitation of tracks has no doubt enhanced reliability in the corporative services in the last seven years.
Although there are no immediate plans to purchase new rolling stocks, he said that some of the abandoned wagons are being rehabilitated based on the demand for freight services. He was however optimistic that proposed concession of the existing narrow gauge rail way line as well as signal and communication equipment will boost availability of rolling stocks and train service respectively.
The director also said that when some aspect of Narrow gauge railway operations is finally concessioned to foreign investors, more engines wagons and coaches will be purchased while the signally and communications services will be upgraded so as to enhance movement of freight and passengers.
He stressed that this will enhance economic activities, create more jobs, for Nigerians and by extension reduce price of consumer goods in the market.
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