About 20 units of 40-foot containers were last Friday evacuated from APM Terminals at the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa to Kano and Kaduna.
It was the first time in about 16 years that the rail was used for that purpose.
The ribbon to signal re-commencement of evacuation of containers by rail at the port was cut by Chairman of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Board, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, on behalf of the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar.
Mr. Andrew Dawes, who formally takes over from Mr. Dallas Hampton as Managing Director of APM Terminals Apapa at the end of this week, was obviously elated at the development.
Appearing at the ceremony alongside his predecessor, Dawes said that the occasion marks a new dawn for the port industry in Nigeria.
“We are very excited about this project because it will enable APM Terminals Apapa to grow and to fulfil its plans and the plan of the Nigerian government. It is essential that this rail operation is successful so we are excited and on behalf of APM Terminals Apapa, we fully support this and we will commit our resources and finances to make this a success,” Dawes said.
Three years ago, APM Terminals Apapa announced that it constructed the new rail line at the cost of N87.8 million to replace the existing one.
The new rail line, which was designed by Scott Wilson – one of the biggest and leading engineering consulting firms in the world and was constructed by China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), is meant to enhance efficient cargo operation at the port.
The construction was supervised by representatives of the NRC to ensure that it was in line with the country’s new standard gauge design.
The NRC Managing Director, Prince Adeseyi Sijuwade, in his speech at the event said that the revival of rail transportation at the port will facilitate port decongestion.
He said: “This day will go down in the annals of history of the Corporation as a day we re-commenced NRC’s active participation in the lifting of container cargos from the ports to hinterland and in enhancing the ports decongestion drive.
“It also becomes a milestone in our record of achievements regarding addition of 4 locomotives to be known as Class 23 Locomotives into our fleet of locomotives. They would shortly be deployed into our passenger and goods train services. We are also now better equipped to deal with emergencies, with the two new 100 tons railway cranes.”
Sijuwade said that the acquisition of the new facilities was part of the Federal Government’s continued and sustained drive at transforming the nation’s socio-economic development through a strong and formidable rail transport system.
“We are today demonstrating our ability in expanding our horizon and service level with the flag-off of this train-load of 20 container wagons from Apapa Wharf to Kaduna/Kano for the ICNL,” the NRC helmsman stated.
He said that the NRC has entered into a new partnership with APM Terminals and one of its premier customers, the Inland Containers Nigeria Limited (ICNL) to revive the port train services which was suspended over ten years ago due to our poor infrastructure.
“With the support from the Federal Government and the National Assembly, directives of the Honourable Minister and oversight of our Board members, the NRC is more than ever before, contributing to the economic growth and development of the country. We are confident that with stronger railway involvement in the evacuation of imported cargo, the impact of roacltrucks on the roads would be mitigated.
“It is pertinent to mention that NRC is not relenting in its effort to increase the freight market share that comes to the Corporation. I am glad to inform you that this weekend, we will also be commencing haulage of sugar, salt, and other consumable products for Dangote Nigeria Limited with the service collaboration of ConnectRail Limited from Greenview Development Nigeria Limited.
“Other services expected to commence in the near future include movement of Lafarge Cement in pallets using flat wagons (CBXs). Also, haulage of Automobile Gasoline Oil (AGO) for ConnectRail will commence next month followed by that for Total Petroleum. In the same vein, ballast movement for CCECC from Sanusi to Apapa Local will commence, and haulage of ballast for CRCC will start from Apapa Quays to the Wagon Assembly Depot in Apapa,” Sijuwade stated.
The flag-off ceremony was well-attended by several maritime industry stakeholders, including the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), represented by the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Apapa Area Command, Comptroller Charles Edike.