APAPA GRIDLOCK: NRC begins evacuation of petroleum products from tank farms by rail

The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) will commence the evacuation of petroleum products from tank farms and oil depots located in Apapa by rail this month.

The corporation’s Director of Operations, Niyi Ali, who disclosed this expressed confidence that with the development, vehicular traffic that characterised the Apapa area and Tin-Can Island which host the two largest seaports in Nigeria will soon be over.

According to him, railway links to the tank farms for lifting of petroleum products by oil marketers will be completed by September this year and already, some of the oil marketing companies have started moving Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, by rail, but not yet petroleum because of safety issues.

He said: “Recently, the Nigerian railway moved its first commercial quantity of diesel out of Apapa. We moved 12 wagons of AGO from Lagos to Kano. We moved 528 thousand litres of AGO by rail. Moving AGO is a bit easier because you don’t need that amount of safety considerations. So, we can trans-load from road tankers to  rail tankers and that is what we will continue to do. As time goes on, we will see an increment in not just the amount of AGOs but also other products.

“In the AGO movement, we used a third party called Connect Rail who brokered the deal between the Nigeria Railways and the product marketer, Eterna Oil Plc.”

He said the NRC has acquired 40 brand new pressurized tank wagons meant for lifting petroleum products from the jetties.

“Pressurised means that they don’t leak and that they can be guaranteed of their quantity. But there is a bit more to petroleum products movement than just having tank wagons. The important thing to remember is that unlike other traffics, the point of loading and offloading is where there are always safety concerns.

“The first thing we do in our discussions with some of the oil marketers is how to create access to the tank farms and as we speak, we have contracts to rehabilitate all the lines to the tank farms of the major oil marketers.

“The lines are currently being built and rehabilitated to their terminals. We also have ongoing discussions with most of them about the facilities that are required to trans-load the products from their tank farms into the tank wagons. We also consider the fact that these materials are highly combustible, so safety is always the key concern for us,” he added.

He said the NRC is currently moving about 60 units if 40 ft containers every week from APM Terminals Apapa to the northern part of the country.

“We are also in serious discussions with APMT and from next month our target is to be running three trains a week between Lagos and Kano. That is in addition to what we are already carrying.

“We are also in discussion with all other operators like ENL and GDNL to see how we can best utilise their facilities but all these have to do with re-establishing confidence in the rail system,” Ali stated.

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