The Federal Ministry of Transportation has stepped up efforts to ensure that the Apapa port’s standard gauge rail line is ready by July 2022 for cargo evacuation, reducing port congestion.
This comes as the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, announced that the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) facility beside the rail gauge track inside the AP Muller Terminal Apapa would be demolished, causing cargo evacuation to be hampered.
Saraki announced this during a visit to Apapa port’s ongoing rail construction and certain Tin Can port facilities yesterday.
Saraki also reinforced the Nigerian Ports Authority’s need for the complete repair of the TinCan Island Port Complex’s quay walls, which have deteriorated owing to age.
“We cannot build on a poor foundation,” the Minister stated during a tour of the Lagos Port Complexes yesterday. “It is crucial that we get these two very significant ports upgraded and ready to accommodate contemporary vessels.” The Ports have been neglected for decades, but it’s better late than never.”
The position is consistent with that of Mohammed Bello Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, who has allayed fears of the TinCan Island Island Port Complex collapsing imminently, stating that the Authority is already in the final stages of determining funding options, which include talks with competent multilateral funding institutions and the possibility of the authority using a percentage of revenue or transfers to the CRF to fund the reconstruction.
It will be recalled that during several media interactions, Koko stated that “although the NPA has been undertaking remedial works on the quays over the years, the time has come for a holistic reconstruction, and the Authority is working with the Federal Ministry of Transportation on the most prudent funding option.”
Saraki stated that the ministry would convene a tripartite meeting with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to discuss the building’s demolition, which has halted the railway’s construction.
Last month, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation complained that the structure is preventing shipments from being evacuated by rail in the port.
Xia Lijun, CCECC’s Deputy Managing Director, said the building was the main reason freight evacuation by rail on standard gauge trains had not started inside the terminal.
Several attempts to remove the building that sits beside the rail gauge track have been ineffective, he claimed, for the previous three years.
“We are here to look at the challenges affecting works to connect the train to the Apapa ports,” the minister added. This standard gauge railway has been under construction for more than two years, and I came to inspect the progress.
“While this structure appears to be large, it is essentially a little issue that will be rectified when the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Nigerian Ports Authority, and Nigeria Customs Service meet to discuss it.”
“Although it has been agreed that the structure would be demolished, it is a radioactive facility.” We need to make sure the demolition is done securely because it houses scanners.”
The ministry wants the standard gauge rail line built and operational by the end of July 2022, according to Saraki.
“We want to make sure that the activities here have improved by the end of next month, and that the relocation of this Customs facility, which is on the rail track, is resolved by the end of this month.” “By the end of July 2022, we hope to have this track functioning,” she stated.
Saraki said the ministry, agencies, and interested stakeholders must take a holistic approach to fixing the situation since palliative measures will no longer suffice.
“We have seen the terminals and the status of the ports’ infrastructure, and it is regrettable that the NPA has written and taken it upon themselves to attempt to find answers.” Tin Can is one of our key ports, as well as one of our economy’s engine rooms. A deteriorated port is not conducive to economic progress. Palliative care will no longer suffice; we must seek a long-term solution to this problem,” she stated.
She stated that the ministry and agencies will confer with specialists for port rehabilitation because the country could not afford to halt business and operations while seeking answers to the challenges at the ports.