Following the failure of the Federal Government to deliver on its promise to procure 100 wagons to enhance rail transportation, the Nigerian Railway Cooperation (NRC) has said that the government was not able to deliver as a result of ongoing plans to oncession the wagons.
The Managing Director of NRC, Engineer Fidel Okhiria, stated this in Lagos at a stakeholders meeting organised by the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) on the Kaduna Inland Dry Ports (KIDP) last week.
Recall that Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi had assured stakeholders of the importation of 100 wagons before December 2017.
But speaking during the event, Engr Okhiria said that the country has not reached the financial pressure for such investment, even as he maintained that plans are still ongoing to procure the wagons. He also added that the tripartite funding by the federal government for the project have been available since 2016.
He however promised that the project will kick-start this year 2018, adding that most of the properties in Abeokuta that where obstructing the right of way of the rail lines have been settled.
“The 20 wagons will soon come we are in the process, the 100 wagons that was earlier promised by the ministry of transportation was not procured, it is under the conccessioning plans. So we have not reached the financial pressure of the concession. We thought by then we could have finished it so we are still discussing that. The beauty of it is that the tripartite funding by the Nigerian government has been available since 2016. If you are the owner of the fund you have to protect it so we hope by this year they have to kick start that it will take about 3 years to finish it. I will say the process 95% of those structures discovered in Abeokuta to be demolished have been settled we appointed estate valuers to value the properties maybe before we go nest time everything must have been settled”
On the inland dry ports, he called for the need to connect all the dry ports through the rail adding that the rail will be the bond where all the modes of transportation will merge together.
He also advised owners of dry port to ensure that they link their ports to the rail system saying that it is their responsibility to ensure that their dry ports are linked.
He also promised that wagons will be deployed to the inland dry ports to make transportation of those cargoes easy and fast.
“What is interconnectivity is to link the other mode of transportation to the other. So the rail network will be the DG line where everybody will come together. So every new development on the rail will definitely get to the water. We encourage other dry ports because it is there responsibility of the owner of the dry port to link to the rail. So that is why they were located where it will not be so much expensive to link the dry port location to the rail because that is one of the things they put into considerations before locating a dry port. Those wagons that will be deployed we will be discussing with them and I don’t think that will be a problem if the cargos are there are they need to be carried. We carry in bulk if they have a situation where the wagons will come and they will be loaded fast”
The NRC boss also said that the corporation wants a situation where the wagons will come at once not in bits to the dry ports even as he said that cargoes will be carried by the wagons to the same destination, which is Kaduna.
He emphasized that most of the standard gauges will stop at TinCan ports in Lagos .
“We don’t want a situation where they will tell Mr A to bring one wagon of Mr B to bring another wagon it is going to be direct from the shipper to the dry port. We believe that the container will be readily available not Mr A or B importing or this person will say I am talking my to Benin while the other person will say he is taking his container to another destination. Anybody whose container is destined for Kaduna will go on the rail. Most of the Standard gauges like the ones from Lagos to Calabar will terminate at TinCan ports. You know railway system is not what you do by blinking of your eyes, you have to look for funding”
He also said that to ensure that the government serves the citizens right they will ensure that the fares for these services are at a very minimal rate adding that if it involves adding something to the concessionaires.
“The duty of the government is to serve the people and in the process of serving the people you have to enhance the process of continuing to serve the people and to make it possible you have to earn the money to fuel it and to carry the people. So if you leave out saying that you have to carry only people maybe after sometime you will go down because the fund will not be there. You have to combine it there is nowhere in the world that they don’t combine it. So it is among the things we are discussing with the concessionaire that won the bidding. And the government cannot do afford to leave our people. So it is part of the agreement if it will lead to government making some contributions to the concessionaires we will do that”
He also said that the reson why the railway from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri has not started is because of financial problems.
“From Ph to Maiduguri, the contractor is out of sight for now because we have not been able to meet up with the financial obligations. We have the same problem with the rail station from Lagos to Kanu emphasis is the same a contact was given from Ph to Maiduguri and at the same time from Lagos to Kaduna”