Analysts have revealed that the inefficient freight rail network in Nigeria is costing the nation about N500 billion in lost revenue, annually, as a functional freight rail services that would have assisted in the haulage of goods from Tin Can Island Port and the Lagos Ports Complex (LPC), two of the nation’s busiest sea ports, to various parts of the country.
According to the analysts, if freight rail services were functional, the gridlock in Apapa and environs, for instance, would have been drastically reduced or eliminated, freeing up the roads for other users.
Other major ports in the country not also linked by rail, depriving the economy of the much needed revenue, include those located in Calabar, Delta, Port Harcourt and Onne.
Specifically, analysts made reference to the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), shipping companies, major importers, clearing agents, haulage businesses and other port users as worst hit by the gridlock in Apapa and environs as a result of the absence of the freight rail services.
According to economic analysts, the N500 billion would have been generated by these government agencies, parastatals and haulage companies if there were functional freight rail services as this would have eliminated the present gridlock with the attendant downtime and improve cargo turn-over. They explained that a freight locomotive has the capacity to carry about 40 containers on one trip.
Maritime industry operators are worried that despite the over N104 billion in budgetary allocations to the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) in the past six years by outgoing administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to revive the sector, haulage operators and other spin-off businesses within the two busiest seaports have continued to suffer as a result of neglect by the concerned authorities.
Apapa port accounts for about 50 percent of cargo throughput while Tin Can Island port accounts for about 25 percent in the Nigerian seaports. Cargoes are conveyed by obsolete and rickety heavy duty trailers in and out of the port to other parts of the country where motorists are regularly confronted by high gridlock occasioned by daily cargo round trip.