The following article bu Olusegun Koiki was published in the National Mirror on August 23, 2013. See see the original article, click here

national_mirror.jpgThe Nigerian Railways Corporate (NRC) is set to convey containers facilitated by Inland Containers Nigeria Limited (ICNL) through the rail tract from Lagos to Kano after 17 years of suspending such exercise.

NRC Managing Director, Mr. Adeseyi Sijuwade, said the resumption of the operations demonstrated the Corporation’s ability to enhance the development of the nation’s economy with active private sector participation.

Sijuwade said in Lagos that as part of the pilot scheme, the Corporation would deploy 20 wagons carrying between 20 and 40 containers.

The Managing Director noted that the commencement of the container freight would help in decongesting the ports as well as help in facilitating the establishment and use of Inland Container Depots (ICDs) along the track corridors.

He added that with the strengthening of the freight capacity, the Corporation was ready to enter into partnership with organisations that require its services.

Sijuwade said: “Twenty containers is equivalent to 20 trailers or 40 trucks on the road. This goes a long way to improve the state of our roads, boost the economic, health, safety and environmental sustainability of the nation.”

Also speaking, ICNL Managing Director, Mallam Ismail Yusuf, noted that the company was taking a giant leap forward by commencing rail haulage of containers from Lagos to Kano and Kaduna Inland Container Terminals respectively.

Yusuf stressed that being a foremost dry port operator in Nigeria, the company’s birth in 1980 through instrumentality of a presidential fiat to open up the hinterland to shipping trade and to provide the necessary solution to the intractable port congestion became a welcome development among international communities, particularly in the maritime sector.

He, however, regretted that the last batch of container traffic on rail left the sea port in March, 1996 and the wagons never returned for lack of traffic and declining fortunes of the rail corporation.

Yusf noted that succour came with positive intervention of the President Goodluck Jonathan-led government to remodel the rail system and reinstate it to its rightful place.

He said: “And this impacted positively on the economy through a massive service delivery of import goods and import products with the associated earnings from such trade.

“However, a functioning rail haulage system is very vital for a seamless distribution of cargo across Nigeria. The vital rail haulage system has been inert for several years despite several forlorn attempts at revamping the system.

“The current expectations are hinged on a carrying capacity of a twenty-wagon train load which will hopefully make a round trip in 10 days with a fortnight movement through a iron tract of 1,132 kilometres to Kano and 909 kilometres to Kaduna and also return empty/export boxes within the same journey with a three-day transit time on each leg.”