The Federal Government is set to demolish structures inside some port terminals of the Lagos Ports Complex (LPC) in order to accommodate the Lagos-Ibadan Standard gauge rail project. Notable ports terminals affected includes Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL), ENL Consortium Ltd and Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GDNL).
Disclosing this on Thursday in Lagos when he led an on-the-spot inspection of the affected port terminals, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi urged the project contractor to always exploit alternative means before going ahead to demolish structures inside the port’s terminals.
According to the Minister of Transportation, who was accompanied on the inspection by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, “We will ensure ports services are not disrupted. There are areas that work will be carried out.
“It is important that we get the rail services right inside the ports to ease the congestion that we are having there.”
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On possible compensations to affected ports terminals, the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman assured that all affected port terminals will be compensated from the dues they pay into the Federal Government coffers.
In her words, “Right now, we have a situation where certain warehouses inside the ports will have to be removed. We have some portion of lands inside the ports that will have to be reclaimed by the government from the operators. It is important that the rail lines get to the quayside. I think that is more important than what will be demolished for now.
“However, whatever we do, we are going to be mindful of port operations. We will ensure that the quayside is left available for operations while certain parts of the ports is being rehabilitated.
“For port terminal operators that will suffer loses in terms of the demolition of warehouses or structures, we are going to ensure that such operators gets compensation. We are going to open discussion with such operators to ensure that any attendant compensation relating to the revenue they pay to us are recognised with the value of what they have lost.
“After today, we are going to have another meeting in two weeks time to determine the increase in scope which the project will have, because this visit has expanded the scope of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project. Now we know we are going to cover GDNL and expand it to Eko Support Services (ESS). We are also looking at providing rail sidings for ABTL owned by Flourmills. All this aspect needs to be computed, and the numbers presented to the Honourable Minister of Transportation for necessary approval from the Federal Executive Council (FEC).”
On the implication of the massive workload on the quay side of the ports, the NPA MD revealed than an integrity test will be carried out to determine the capacity of the quays.
“We are carrying out an integrity test to determine the capacity of the quays. Upon determining their capacities, we will look at what manner of reinforcements needs to be done to those quays so that they can accommodate the proposed standard gauge rail project.
“It is important to note that not all terminals will be affected, but it is also important that we deploy intermodal means of cargo evacuation at our ports in order to ease congestion issues,” Hadiza Bala Usman added.
In a related development, the General Electric Company has terminated it concession agreement worth $2.7bn with the Nigerian government over the narrow gauge rail rehabilitation project. This is even as the firm said its handing it over to Transnet SOC Ltd. in line with its strategy to exit the transportation business.
Agreements GE reached with the Nigerian government “are now being negotiated by Transnet and its consortium partners” including SinoHydro of China and APM Terminals, the Boston, Massachusetts-based company said in an emailed response to questions. GE will focus on infrastructure development in Nigeria in areas such as health care and power, it said.
GE won a contract last year to manage Nigeria’s narrow-gauge rail network in partnership with three other companies. It signed an agreement with the West African nation’s authorities in April to proceed with the interim phase of the narrow-gauge concession that is expected to grow freight haulage capacity in the country ten-fold to 500,000 metric tons annually.
“Transnet has been a trusted partner of GE for several decades,” GE said. “We have confidence in their ability and that of the other consortium members to execute on the rail concession project successfully.”
Nigeria is opening up its rail system to private investors following decades of government control as authorities seek to boost infrastructure in the country that vies with South Africa as Africa’s biggest economy.
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