Cracks along quay apron, scanners threaten Apapa port connection to rail
• As Amaechi seeks expert advice
Cracks along the quay apron of the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) and a scanning machine at APM Terminals are currently delaying the connection of the Apapa ports to the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, revealed on Monday.
Addressing newsmen after inspecting the cracks and the scanning machine, the Honourable Minister of Transportation explained that decisions to be taken at a meeting to be held with experts later in the day will guide the contractor on the continuous connection of the port to the rail.
According to Rotimi Amaechi, “If we have to work, we have to see what we are working on. All we came to do today is to see how we will fix the tracks to the quays. We are having problems with some port infrastructure that can either be removed or not to be removed.
“Luckily, the Customs has given us the go-ahead to remove them but their removal is proven a bit difficult. So we are going to the office now to discuss with experts on how to remove this infrastructures.
“The second issue is that there are some cracks at the quays apron where we want to lay the tracks. We have come.today to inspect those cracks and we will decide after meeting with experts.”
On when the port will be finally connected to the rail, Amaechi explained that, “I cannot give a timeline to that now because addressing these issues with port infrastructure is a bit technical. Until the engineers come up with a proper solution and time based solution, that is when we can speak on when we will connect the port.to the rail. I am not an engineer, I am just the head of the Ministry in charge.
“There are three tracks that enters the port, but we are having issues with one of the rail tracks that has to pass through where the scanner is located. So, we are going to have a meeting to know how to go ahead with this. I won’t be making decisions at the meeting because I am just a policy implementor. I will allow the experts to come up with solutions that will guide our judgement in getting across this hurdle.
“We are working hard to find solutions, but we need expert advise to go ahead because these things are technical. We cannot commission if we don’t find a solution to these issues.”
Also speaking on the matter, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Engineer Fidet Okhiria, explained that it is only if the tracks get to the seaside that issues with multiple handling of cargoes will be eradicated.
In his words, “The essence of the rail is to move freight. So, we have to get to the port seaside meaningfully, not just getting to the port. This has to happen so that multiple handling of cargoes will be eradicated. Presently, trucks are paid to bring cargoes to the rail because the tracks have not reached the seaside inside the container terminal.
“For now, the rail has reached ENL Terminal which is a Bulk cargo terminal. It is these encumbrances at the container terminal that is delaying the track from getting to APM Terminals. As the Minister have said, we are going for a meeting now to see how we can get across that hurdle.”