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Stakeholders seek policies to liberalise logistics infrastructure

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Stakeholders in the transport and logistics sector have called on the government to create policies that would liberalise the sector while easing freight movement in the country.

This is coming even as Nigeria recently received the delivery of 86 freight wagons to boost freight movement, especially reducing traffic at the Apapa ports in Lagos.

Lagos District Manager of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Jerry Oche, who confirmed the delivery to The Guardian, said the coaches were meant for the standard gauge and not the narrow gauge.

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“We got some bandwagon and covered wagons, which will serve freight for Lagos-Ibadan railway. We received 41 covered and 45 low-sided wagons,” he said.

Meanwhile, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Ltd (CCECC) also confirmed the delivery stating that the wagons would be used on standard gauge railways in different parts of Nigeria.

CCECC in a statement, at the weekend, said: “Recently, the first batch of 86 freight wagons arrived in Nigeria. They will be used on standard gauge railways like the Abuja-Kaduna Railway, Itakpe-Warri Railway and Lagos-Ibadan Railway.

“This will also be our first time undertaking port-railway intermodal transport during the trial operation of the Lagos-Ibadan railway.”

According to the CCECC, the 86 freight wagons were only transported under six days, rather than the estimated 30 days to arrive in the country.

For years, the roads leading to and from the two Lagos ports have been an abiding source of heartache and nightmare due to gridlock. Stakeholders said the delivery of the wagons would reduce the influx of trailers on the route.

Chief Executive Officer, West Atlantic Cold-Chain and Commodities Limited, Henrii Nwanguma, said Nigeria is never short of opaque, over-priced, highly sensationalised public procurement events.

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Nwanguma who queried the announcement of the delivery was not certain if Dangote or BUA made a song and dance of their very expensive cement, petrochemicals and fertiliser ventures.

He said: “The way government has been advertising poorly managed and disjointed critical assets which I have always argued are best driven by the private sector, if only the government will do the needful and transparently liberalise logistics infrastructure with appropriate modern, forward-looking policies.”

Dean, School of Transport, Lagos State University (LASU), Prof. Samuel Odewumi, said the delivery is long overdue, but it’s better late than never.

Odewumi said the Lagos-Ibadan railway operation ought to have been increased from a single trip per day. This will significantly decrease the opportunity for the validation of the slipper rail line that the country is currently witnessing.

He said the delivery would reduce the volume of tankers and trailers falling off and creating gridlocks every now and then on the road compounded by the eternally on-going construction activities on the road.

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