Double-handling charges still persist on Lagos-Ibadan cargo rail — NRC


By Abiodun OBA


The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has said that except the standard gauge track gets to the Apapa Port quays, double-handling charges will persist on the Lagos-Ibadan cargo rail services.

The Lagos District Manager of the NRC, Augustine Arisa, explained that because the tracks are not up to the Apapa port quay, somebody has to bring the containers from the ship to the rail side and such service cannot be free.

According to the district manager, “there is no-where in the world that somebody will help bring a container from a ship to where the rail is located inside the port and such services is expected to be free.

“The issue of double-handling charges is always like that anywhere in the world where the track does not get to the port quay. At Apapa Port, the standard gauge does not get to the port quay, so containers have to be brought from the ship at quayside to where the rail is loading inside the port for onward movement to Ibadan.

“APM Terminals in Apapa have what they call Rail Handling charges. This is what the terminal operator charges for handling the containers from the ship side to the point where the Lagos-Ibadan cargo rail is loading inside the port.

“Customers were initially complaining that why should they pay APM Terminals rail handling charges and still pay us the same charges for moving the containers to Ibadan from Apapa.

“So, we have had to explain to importers that the standard gauge rail does not get to the quay side. It stops at a particular point inside the port, and somebody has to bring the cargoes down from the ship at quay side to where the rail is loading. This cannot be free of charge.

“Had it been that the standard gauge gets to the quay side inside the Apapa Port, then the fee collected by APM Terminals for transferring containers from the ship at quay side to the rail would have been eradicated. But that is not so, and cargo owners have to pay for container transfer from quay side to rail side.

“What we have been doing to reduce the amount cargo owners pay for rail services is that, from time to time, we are always trying to review our charges with APM Terminals in Apapa in order to ensure that rail haulage of cargoes is cheaper to road haulage of cargoes. This we do to attract more people to the Lagos-Ibadan cargo rail. Sometimes, we bring charges down just to meet customers’ expectations.

“We need to grow importers confidence on the Lagos-Ibadan cargo rail and sometimes, we slash charges just to bring in more cargoes for the service.”

Cargo owners were refusing to put their containers on the Lagos-Ibadan container freight services over double handling charges.

A port official who wouldn’t want his name in print explained that, Since the inaugural trip of the Lagos-Ibadan cargo rail, which was fully loaded, subsequent trips have not attracted many containers as expected.

“The importers are complaining of double handling charges. Some charges that have been paid at the Lagos Port are being levied on the containers on arrival at Moniya in Ibadan.

“This has led to many of the cargo owners not approving that their containers be moved by rail. Even Customs examination is an issue, but we hope the government agencies sort these issues out in good time.”

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