LESS than a week after the petroleum tank explosion around Otedola area of Ojodu Berger in Lagos, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has said that the corporation is not getting enough patronage from petroleum dealers and companies.
This is even as it revealed that 40 product tank wagons are lying idle at the corporation head office in Lagos.
Addressing journalists in his office in Lagos on Monday, the NRC Managing Director, Engineer Fidet Okhiria explained that 20 fully loaded petroleum tank wagons will take 20 petroleum tanker trucks off the road.
According to Okhiria, “When the liberalisation of the petroleum sector began, we planned ahead that we will be lifting petroleum product tankers if we get customers. So we decided to buy petroleum tank wagons.
“In the first year, we bought 20 tank wagons. In the second year, we bought another 20. However, we didn’t get the expected patronage from the petroleum companies, maybe because many of them had invested heavily in trucks to carry their products by road.
“A company just recently approached us to help them move petroleum products from Apapa to Oshogbo. We are almost concluding the discussion on that with the petroleum company, and our engineers are doing maintenance work on the 40 product tankers because they have been sitting idle since we bought them.
“If only we can do what is right, such accidents like the one that happened around Ojodu Berger would not be happening in this country. Many petroleum tanker trucks on the roads mean the likelihood of such accidents happening.
“We are not saying we are the best. But we need to work together with the petroleum companies and dealers to reduce the hazards of moving petroleum products in the country.
“We can even allow them to buy their own tank wagons if they don’t have faith in our own, and we will allow them access to use our rail tracks.
“With stories of petroleum pipelines being vandalised here and there, movement of petroleum products by rail remains the safest approach.
“The last company we helped to move petroleum products was Oando. After then, we didn’t get patronage from the oil companies again. I believe now that a company wants us to help them move petroleum products from Apapa to Oshogbo, others will troop in for our services.”
When asked if the 40 tank wagons bought by the NRC is enough to meet the demands of the petroleum dealers, the NRC MD explained that, “Although we cannot meet the demands of the petroleum dealers because we only have 40 product tank wagons, but if patronised, we can reduce the hazards on the highway.
“With 40 wagons, we can only move 20 tanks at a time, and for a company like Oando, moving 20 product tank wagons in a day is not enough.
” The best we can do for now is two trips a day, that is 20 tank wagons for a company like Oando, and the other 20 tank wagons for another oil company like Con Oil. But the number of locomotives that we have now is not even enough.
“That is why the contract signed with General Electric (GE) will help the NRC capacity wise.
“In terms of security, rail is safer because the tracks are on earth and the wagon are all air brakes.”
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