Four years after the former Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, flagged off the rail movement of cargoes to/from the Kaduna Inland Dry Port, construction of the rail lines has been abandoned.
The Federal Government commenced construction of rail to facilitate cargo delivery to and from the Kaduna Inland Dry Port in July 2019. Unfortunately, the project was suspended in October of that year.
The former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, had during the commissioning of the project, said rail rehabilitation and construction was aimed at ensuring effective inter-modal transport connectivity nationwide. He said the rail connectivity to the dry port was a new vista of commercial opportunities opened not only for Northern businessmen but also for neighbouring countries.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its Rail Transport report for the first quarter of 2023, disclosed the country recorded N181.27 million from the movement of goods/cargoes by rail in Q1. Also, 59,966 tonnes of goods were transported in Q1, 2023, compared to the 39,379 tonnes reported in Q1 2022.
But in the NBS foreign trade statistics for Q1 2023, most of the commodities moved in and out of the country were transported via sea, air and road, while the rail was left out.
For export, maritime (sea) transport accounted for N6.4 trillion or 98.97 per cent, air transport accounted for N32.49 billion or 0.50 per cent, while road transport recorded N19.04 billion or 0.29 per cent.
For import, maritime transport accounted for N5.3 trillion or 94.45 per cent, air accounted for goods valued at N284.91 billion or 5.12 per cent, while road transport accounted for N23.52 billion or 0.42 per cent.
The ineffective operations of rail lines in the country are affecting the movement of cargo from the seaports to the hinterlands. The General Manager of Kaduna Inland Dry Port, Rotimi Raimi-Hassan, who spoke to The Guardian said all efforts made to ensure the completion of the rail lines have remained futile.
“Since 2019 the former governor of Kaduna State flagged off the rail movement of cargoes, which was done in July, three months after, the construction stopped because of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge.
“Since then we have been making all efforts to get in touch to complete the rail. If the rail is working, it will attract exporters and importers; it will also reduce the cost of moving goods from the ports to the hinterland and enhance economic and social development.
“You won’t believe now that moving cargo by road is not that 100 per cent safe because of the bad state, but if the rail is working, it can move mass containers. That is the problem we are facing,” he said.