The Nigerian Government revealed that it will soon begin freight wagon haulage on the narrow gauge from Lagos to Kano.
The operations are due to commence in the next three months, according to the Minister of Transportation, Sen. Sa’idu Alkali, during his visit to the Kajola Wagon Assembly Plant in Ogun, on Tuesday.
He noted that the Lagos- Ibadan service would use the standard gauge to carry cargo and will begin the operation from Apapa to Kano in three months, citing that meetings have resumed with the Shipping Council over freight prices.
Fixed narrow gauge from Lagos to Kano
The Minister noted that FG had already fixed the narrow gauge from Lagos to Kano, and will now get some locomotives and wagons to take containers from Apapa and move them to Kano, adding:
- “Once we evacuate containers from Lagos, we will use the narrow gauge to move them to Kano.”
He also directed the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria, to look into the cleanliness of the coaches, to enhance patronage on railways, urging that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, being the port regulator, and the former Minister of Transportation set up a ministerial committee headed by the former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation to look into freight charges.
Meanwhile, Okhiria noted the price of the freight charges would be higher than moving containers, he said:
- “The impact on NRC is that the terminals are charging 60, 000 per container for moving the container to the wagon freight, which is still higher than the movement on trucks, and the Shippers’ Council is working on that.
- ” The terminal charges are high because of the double handling; presently, moving cargo by rail is more expensive than road but is faster.
- “We are looking to see how we can do it, we have minimum operational cost, and we don’t need to go and borrow money to buy diesel, that is why we are starting the freight rail movement of cargo handling now.”
The NRC chief said they started freight rail movement from the port pending when they received an order from the Minister to reduce charges and operate the rail freight with the narrow gauge before now but stopped due to security issues.
The NRC boss also added that they have 120 narrow gauge wagons, as the Federal Government had been proactive and the corporation had placed an order through the China Civil Engineering Construction Company.