The federal government said it would soon address the double loading of containers at the five port terminals at Apapa, Lagos by submitting the design and cost implication of linking the port terminals with standard gauge railway line.
With this development, the existing narrow gauge railway line linking the five port terminals would be replaced by standard gauge rail system. At the moment, containers designated to be moved by rail on the narrow gauge railway line are first offloaded into parked trucks near the quay apron for onward transfer to the wagons on rail tracks.
Minister of Transport , Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi who made known recently during an the spot inspection of port terminals at Apapa, in Lagos gave the project implementation technical committee two weeks within which to submit report the design and cost of extending the standard gauge railway line to some terminals at Apapa.
According to him, when the report is finally submitted, it would be forwarded to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval. He also advised the technical committee that the extension of standard gauge railway line into the Apapa port terminals should be designed in such a way that the tracks would be laid near the quay apron so as to ensure quick loading and unloading of containers directly from vessels to wagons.
“Some warehouses would be destroyed if necessary to pave way to link the port terminals by rail but efforts should be made as much as possible to avoid demolition,” Amaechi declared.
In her own remarks, managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman, said that terminal operators that would suffer losses in terms of demolition of warehouses and structures would be compensated.
“We are going to open discussions with operators that would be affected after approval of the report by FEC to ensure that any attendant compensation regarding revenue they pay us are recognised with value of what they pay us.
“We are going to hold another meeting in two weeks’ time to determine the increase in scope of the project. We are looking at providing rail sidings to Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GNDL), Eko Support Services (ESS) and Apapa Bulk Terminal owned by Flour Mills and all these has to be computed and forwarded to the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi for approval of Federal Executive Council,” she said.
The NPA boss stated categorically that not all the terminals would be affected but said they would adopt intermodal means of transportation to ease congestion at the ports. She also disclosed that integrity test would be carried out on the quay side to determine capacity of the quays.
She added that the result of the test would determine the level of reinforcement needs to be done to those quays so that they can accommodate the standard gauge.