Why Lagos-Ibadan cargo rail operates below capacity — NRC
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has disclosed that the Lagos-Ibadan cargo rail services is currently operating below capacity because the service is still very new, adding that importers confidence is gradually growing on the service.
Meanwhile, Tribune Online checks has revealed that the rail services is currently operating below capacity due to paucity of enough containers to meet the three trips per day schedule initially earmarked for the service.
Checks by this reporter on Monday revealed that due to low volume of availability of cargoes, the service is currently not doing the three trips per day schedule stated by the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Saidu Alkali, during the flag-off of the inaugural trip of the service on the 12th of September 2023.
Speaking with this reporter, the Lagos District Manager of the NRC, Engineer Augustine Arisa, explained that though the minister talked about three trips per day during the flag off, adding that service will do more with availability of more cargoes.
He said, “Yes, the Minister said three trips per day, but I can tell you that if we have more cargoes, we will do even more than three trips per day.
“We are not getting enough containers to move as of now because the service is still new to most cargo owners and many of them are still watching the service to check the reliability.
“We don’t own the cargoes and cannot decide which container exits the ports via rail. The cargo owners have the final say on how they want their containers to leave the port.
“As I am talking to you, we have containers already booked for the next three weeks, but we are not yet doing three trips per day. If we get more containers, we will do even four trips per day because we have the capacity.
“We are also ensuring that our prices are not too high when compared to road haulage inorder to increase importers confidence in rail evacuation of cargoes from the Lagos Port.”
Recall that Tribune Online had reported exclusively that cargo owners were refusing to put their containers on the Lagos-Ibadan container freight services over double handling charges.
Speaking with this reporter, a port official who wouldn’t want his name in print explained that, “Since the inaugural trip of the Lagos-Ibadan cargo rail which was fully loaded, subsequent trips have not attracted ‘much’ containers as expected.
“The importers are complaining of double handling charges. Some charges that have been paid at the Lagos Port are being levied on the containers on arrival at Moniya in Ibadan.
“This has led to many of the cargo owners not approving that their containers be moved by rail. Even Customs examination is an issue but we hope the government agencies sort these issues out in good time.”