The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) on Monday called on petroleum product dealers and companies to patronise the corporation’s tank wagons in lifting their products.
Mr Fidet Okhiria, Managing Director, NRC, who made the plea while addressing newsmen in Lagos.
He said that so many truck-related hazards would be eliminated with effective rail transport.
Okhiria spoke against the backdrop of the tanker explosion, which occurred on Otedola Bridge at Ojodu Berger Area on June 28, where several persons reportedly lost their lives and properties.
The managing director said that 20 fully loaded petroleum tank wagons would take 20 petroleum tanker trucks off the road in a day.
The NRC boss, who noted that the corporation was not getting enough patronage from petroleum dealers, said that the 40 tank wagons of the NRC were lying idle at the corporation’s head office in Lagos.
“When the liberalisation of the petroleum sector began, we planned ahead that we will be lifting petroleum products if we get customers. So we decided to buy petroleum tank wagons.
“In the first year, we bought 20 tank wagons. In the second year, we bought another 20.
“However, we didn’t get the expected patronage from the petroleum companies, maybe because many of them had invested heavily on trucks to carry their products by road,” he said.
According to him, a company recently approached the corporation to help move petroleum products from Apapa to Oshogbo, adding that the tank wagons have been lying idle since they were bought.
The director, who said that many of the tanker fire incidents were needless, urged petroleum dealers to encourage government’s investments in tank wagons.
“If only we can do what is right, such accidents like the one that happened around Ojodu Berger would not be happening in this country.
“Many petroleum tanker trucks on the roads means likelihood of such accidents happening.
“We are not saying we are the best. But we need to work together with the petroleum companies and dealers, to reduce the hazards of moving petroleum products in the country.
“We can even allow them to buy their own tank wagons, if they don’t have faith in our own, and we will allow them access to use our rail tracks.
“With stories of petroleum pipelines being vandalised here and there, movement of petroleum products by rail remains the safest approach,’’ Okhiria said.
When asked if the 40 tank wagons bought by the NRC were enough to meet the demands of the petroleum dealers, the NRC boss said that safety should be the priority.
He added that if the ones available were being utilised, government would have bought more.
“Although we cannot meet the demands of the petroleum dealers because we only have 40 product tank wagons, but if patronised, we can reduce the hazards on the highway.
“The best we can do for now is two trips a day, that is 20 tank wagons for a company and the other 20 tank wagons for another oil company.
“In terms of security, rail is safer because the tracks are on earth and the wagon are all air brakes.” (NAN)
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