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Managing Railways For Seaport Development

Managing Railways For Seaport DevelopmentBy Oyeniyi Iwakun

“The developments process that took place in the Nigerian ports did not put rail connections into consideration as an integral part of port infrastructure from the onset. This is in contrast with the global perspective and thus resulted into the degree of congestion in our ports” Engr. Fidet Okhiria, Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

The NRC boss acknowledges the role railway plays in port development in this statement.

Railway is a strategic element that has both economic and competitive advantage; reduces negative externalities on people and environment; promotes growth in capacity without affecting the port city relationship; increases hinterland accessibility efficiently and sustainably; fosters the integration of logistics and many others attest to the assertion above.

This goal has been lost over time as Nigeria has failed to maximize the numerous benefits of the rail by taking into cognizance the need for its development alongside other ports infrastructures due to many combating factors ranging from corruption, lackadaisical attitudes of both the government and the governed, tribalism, nepotism, political instability, lack of technical know-how and shortage of technological skills and facilities and so many others.

Mr. Okhiria also noted that sometime in history the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) was part of NRC but the Ports commercialization in 1992 and final concession in 2006 was covert ebbs of NRC with no voice: ignored rails removed or damaged, networks scrapped, offices taken over thereby contributing to the current menace and bottlenecks in our transport sector especially movement of goods from the ports.

It is on record that the federal government is implementing its recent executive order on the ease of doing business in Nigeria, an effort geared towards removing some of the bottlenecks that hinders easy flow of business in our nation, even as the Lagos state government strives towards achieving its pet project as a mega city. Isn’t this a mockery of the reality? How on earth can this be achieved when the culture of impunity and non-respect for laws still persist among the citizens?

MMS Plus in bid to closely monitor events embarked on a tour at the Apapa-Wharf axis and saw the deteriorating state of our mental capacities in Nigeria. Aside the road blockade resulting to traffic jam which took MMS Plus about four hours before moving out of the ports, it was also observed that some Tank farms and other structures were constructed on the rail tracks within the ports axis.

“Look, my brother, the originators of the ports have brilliant foresight and plans for it and the design was perfect. They constructed the rail tracts so that the trains can move the products to other destinations before distribution but reverse is the case today. In fact, with the master plan, no single truck and tanker is expected to be at the ports but when the Nigerian factor set in and this is the result we are seeing.” A woman who works in Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) remarked.

In ameliorating this challenge, there is need for developing the Nigerian ports through port-rail integration via such conditions as; increasing the capacity of rail transport through investment in track and rolling stock is essential.

Incorporating the development of internal railway legs into port planning to ensure that it matches traffic forecasts for modern logistics operations; resolving any discrepancies between port-rail integration and linking all other ports by rail; creating marshalling yard within the port and rail as co-operant factor to the development of ICDs should be made efficiently functional.

An integrated logistics and transport policy should be initiated and is should support both internal mobility and the mobility necessary to compete for foreign trade.

 

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