•Lagos-Ibadan cargo train
Investigations by our correspondent yesterday have revealed that the Lagos-Ibadan cargo train, since it’s arrival on Sunday, October 29, 2023 at the Apapa Port from Moniya in Ibadan, has not left back to Ibadan with cargoes due to lack of enough cargoes to lift from the nation’s busiest port, reports Nigerian Tribune.
Checks yesterday revealed that the Lagos-Ibadan cargo train arrived Apapa Port with a sizeable number of export units of containers on Sunday and has not returned back to Ibadan as of yesterday due to a lack of import units of containers to lift.
When our correspondent got to the Apapa Port, the Lagos-Ibadan cargo train was seen stationed in the rail track, waiting to be loaded with import units of containers that seem not to be available as of the time of filling in this report.
Speaking with our correspondent, a port worker who wouldn’t want his name in print explained that the Lagos-Ibadan cargo train is just not getting enough cargoes to lift.
“Sometimes, the train stays here (inside the port) days without leaving. The train has been here since Sunday when it arrived. Today is Wednesday, it is yet to go back to Ibadan with containers.
“Cargoes are leaving the port but not by rail. Cargo owners are opting for road haulage due to the high cost of train haulage.
“When we ask the cargo owners to move by rail, they tell us that it is too expensive, so they opt for road evacuation of cargoes.
“I think the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) should slash their fares. If that happens, maybe more cargoes will leave the port by rail,” the port worker who has not been authorised to speak on the matter said.
When contacted, the NRC confirmed the lull in movement of cargoes by train but said it doesn’t have powers over how containers leave the port.
In an exclusive chat with this paper, the Lagos District Manager of the NRC, Engineer Augustine Arisa said it’s not easy to slash fares giving the cost of diesel as at today.
In the words of Engineer Augustine Arisa, “Yes, the train came in on Sunday with some export units of cargoes and has not left for Moniya since then. We hope to leave maybe tomorrow (today Thursday)or Friday, but in truth, we don’t have control over the cargoes.
“The cargo owners decide how they want to move their containers out of the port. It is when we have customers that we will move the train back to Ibadan. There is nothing wrong with the train. The train is in perfect working condition, but without cargoes to move, we cannot just be driving the train from Lagos to Ibadan.”
When asked if the NRC is considering slashing fares for cargo movement between Lagos and Ibadan, Engineer Arisa said it’s not easy to slash fares due to high cost of diesel.
“We are currently considering slashing fares to improve patronage. However, don’t forget that we buy diesel to power these trains. It’s not easy when you wish to slash fares but the cost of diesel is not helping you.
“But we are looking at the option of slashing fares and when we arrive at a reasonable amount, we will make it public,” the NRC Lagos District Manager said.
It will be recalled that the federal government flagged-off the movement of containers from Lagos to Ibadan via rail on September 12, with a mandate from the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Saidu Alkali to run three trips every day, and 90 trips every month.