Lagos ports record low container freight by rail, 16 months after

By Andrew Airahuobhor / Correspondent


The euphoria that greeted the revival of container evacuation by rail from the Apapa Container Terminal in the Lagos Ports Complex (LPC) in August 2013 is yet to translate to improvement in the operations of Inland Container Depots (ICDs).

The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) formally flagged off the revived evacuation of container cargoes from the Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa by rail when 20 units of 40 feet containers left the Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa, for Inland Container Nigeria Ltd (ICNL) depots in Kaduna and Kano State.

Daily Independent investigations show that the train service from the port has remained epileptic, with one trip of less than 20 containers hardly achieved on weekly basis. This defeats the initial target of achieving up to three trips of 20 containers each per week.

But Inland Container Nigeria Limited, operators of the container depots in Kano and Kaduna said, that is even far less than the anticipated 1000 TEUs (twenty feet equivalent units), which would make significant impact on the volume of cargos required to be moved to the terminal.

This is in spite of the Apapa Area One Command of the Nigeria Customs Service which pledged support for the rail service, promising to release whatever volume of request for train haulage even up to 1,000 containers daily.

The train service from the port revived 17 years after the last set of containers was moved by train in 1996. Subsequent reforms in the port sector did not put the rail service into consideration. Even the port reforms of 2006, that led to the concession of port terminals to private operators, did not separate the rail tracks from lots allocated to the concessionaires, which consequently put up structures on the tracks.

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) came up with the idea of Inland Container Depots (ICDs) at about the same period rail tracks were absent from the ports, a situation that obstructed the take off of the ICD project.

Source : Independent

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