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FG Commences Container Movement on Lagos-Ibadan Cargo Rail

In a significant step toward enhancing the ease of doing business in Nigeria, the Federal Government has launched the movement of import containers from the Apapa port to Ibadan via a $1.5 billion standard gauge rail line. This development comes after two years of construction and several challenges.

The commencement of container movement has brought much-needed relief to the congested Apapa corridor. The cargo will be transported on one of the three rail lines constructed by the Federal Government, running from Apapa port to Moniya in Ibadan, Oyo State.

During the inauguration ceremony at APM Terminal, Apapa, the Minister of Transportation, Saidu Alkali, stated that the freight train from Apapa Ports to Ibadan would transport 90 container cargoes daily. This initiative aims not only to decongest the ports but also to save shippers from accumulating demurrages.

The 157km rail line project, inaugurated on June 10, 2021, was designed to support cargo evacuation from Apapa port, reduce the burden on roads, and alleviate congestion at the ports and access routes.

It’s worth noting that the construction faced setbacks, primarily due to the presence of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) scanner building, which obstructed two of the rail tracks. Minister Alkali assured that efforts are underway to remove the Customs scanner building, allowing the utilization of the remaining two standard gauge lines.

Initially, the freight service will operate with three coaches per day, totaling 90 trips per month. However, plans are in place to strengthen the Nigerian Railway Corporation’s capacity to increase the number of trips.

Minister Alkali emphasized that the removal of the Customs building and the full operation of all three standard gauge lines would enable the NRC to conduct 270 train trips from Lagos to Ibadan each month, equating to nine train trips per day.

He stated, “The ministry is going to liaise with the Minister of Finance and the Customs concerning demolition of the scanning centre, which is affecting completion of the remaining tracks into the ports. With the movement of containers from Apapa to Ibadan, we expect the Apapa port to be decongested and our roads to be free of container-carrying trucks.”

The launch of container movement by rail received positive feedback from stakeholders, who stressed the importance of sustainable projects in Nigeria. Functional cargo transportation by rail is crucial for port efficiency, job creation, and government revenue generation.

With this development, it is anticipated that Nigeria will see fewer containers on its roads and bridges, leading to improved port activities, reduced transportation costs, and enhanced trade competitiveness.

It’s worth noting that Nigeria’s rail transport revenue for the second quarter of 2023 showed a significant increase, indicating the potential for rail transport to contribute substantially to the country’s economy. Additionally, efforts are underway to foster collaboration with neighboring countries, such as Benin Republic, to promote legitimate trade within the West African region and eliminate barriers to trade.

 

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