By JONAH NWOKPOKU
The Federal Government has said that it has invested N1.6 billion on the rehabilitation of the rail lines linking the ports and some tank farms in Apapa, saying the project will be completed within the next three months.
Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, Engr. Adeseyi Sijuade disclosed this while inspecting the Apapa loop lines rehabilitation projects in Lagos last week.
Represented by the Corporation’s Director, Mechanical/Electrical Signal and Telecommunications, Engr. Fidet Okhira, Sijuade said, within the next three months, the contractor, CCECC has assured that the laying of the tracks into the farm yards would have been completed, so that petroleum products can be hauled directly into the rail tank wagons.
He noted that the tracks are being upgraded from 60 to 85 pounds in order for the tracks to be able to withstand the expected increase in weight that will result from direct haulage of petroleum products by rail.
According to him, “The tracks are worn out already because they have been there since the colonial days. We are now changing them to new rails. Apart from that we are changing them from lower to higher poundage, so that they will be able to withstand more stress and carry more loads.
So we are upgrading from 60 to 85 pounds rail which means heavier load. So instead of the rails braking under heavy weight, it would be able to carry more loads coming from the ports.”
He also disclosed that the companies captured in the link project include; A-Z Petroleum, Oando Petroleum, Total Petroleum, Mobil, Eurafric Energy Ltd, and Forte Oil.
Speaking further, he said, “All the lines going into the wharf are currently under rehabilitation. We are upgrading the narrow gauge as a maintenance measure and we expect to upgrade to the standard gauge as we go on, especially when the Lagos to Ibadan standard gauge contract kicks off. But in the meantime we do not want to fold our heads and halt rail services and that is the essence of the rehabilitation. Because that is what we have for now until we get the new standard gauge rails.”
Easing Apapa traffic
Sijuade however noted that the upgrade of the rail links will boost customer confidence as the move will enhance the reliability of the tracks.
“After upgrading the Apapa rail links, we believe that our customers will have more confidence because the rail tracks will be more reliable. Already we have new locomotives that can take products from Lagos to Kano within 72 hours. By doing this, we are ensuring the reliability of the tracks and that will engender more confidence on our customers,” he said.
He added: “We are also extending the tracks to the tank farms. This is because they are on railway lands and the agreement is that they will carry their products using the rail. The problem we had was that the tracks were not extended into the tank farms.
He noted that at the moment the corporation still hauls petroleum products but that comes with additional cost which makes it unattractive to the petroleum marketers, saying that creating a direct access to the tank farms will scuttle the double hauling and attendant costs.