About 80 per cent of cargoes landing at Apapa Ports, Lagos would be freighted by the railway by December, the Minister of Transportation Mr Rotimi Amaechi has said.
He said more locomotives and wagons, which would make this realisable, were expected before December, adding that when they arrive, Nigerians would witness a huge improvement in cargo business.
He said the government was committed to the Nigerian Railway transformation to ensure that it takes its place as the heart of the transportation initiatives of the government.
Amaechi spoke through the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation Mr Fidet Okhiria at the weekend.
He said since independence, the Corporation had been the backbone of the nation’s agricultural revolution, adding that though the train lost some grounds substantially to trailers and other articulated vehicles in the sector, the railway is making sufficient inroad in line with the focus of the government.
“We are working to ensure that the railway is repositioned and given its pride of place. We are determined to ensure that before December at least 80 percent of all cargoes at least from the sea are carried by the rail. That is why the repair work on the narrow gauge linking to Apapa is ongoing. We have also insisted that the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge line must terminate at Apapa. That is why the government is also determined to commence the Lagos-Calabar coastal rail line, which is a Port to Port idea. When all these fully materialises, we would have a robust system that recognises that all the modes of transportation especially railway have their fair share of traffic re-distribution.”
Amaechi disclosed that the two locomotives delivered to the Corporation on Thursday were not part of the 20 promised by General Electric (GE), but part of the ones earlier ordered by the government as part of its commitment to the upgrading of the services provided by the corporation. He said 10 more locomotives would be delivered in September.
Earlier, the minister had promised that GE would bring in 20 locomotives and 200 coaches by last May 29, to help jumpstart its involvement in the railway system, as a concessionnaire of the narrow gauge.
Amaechi added that when the GE finally delivers, the corporation would have enough rolling stock to deploy and provide service to its customers.
He said these locomotives could still come in before year end.
He said the process of concessioning the narrow gauge is ongoing, disclosing that the federal government has appointed transaction advisors to perfect the guiding document for the exercise.
He however assured Nigerians that the Federal Government would take decisions that would be in the best interest of the country.