The NRC had, last year, disclosed that railway links to the tank farms for petroleum products evacuation by oil marketers would be completed this year. Actually, some oil marketing companies have begun moving Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) known as diesel. Director of Operations of the NRC, Mr. Niyi Ali had said petrol transportation by rail would commence once attendant safety issues have been addressed.
Ali had said “The NRC had moved its first commercial quantity of diesel out of Apapa. We moved 12 wagons of AGO from Lagos to Kano. Moving AGO is a bit easier because you don’t need that much amount of safety considerations. So, we can trans-load from tankers to rail tankers and that is what we will continue to do. As time goes on, we will see some improvement in not just the volume of AGO, but also in other products. In the AGO movement, we used a third party called Connect Rail, which brokered the deal between the Nigeria Railways and a product marketer, Eterna Oil Plc.”
Ali further said that the NRC has acquired 40 brand new pressurised tank wagons meant for evacuating petroleum products from jetties. “Pressurised” means these wagons don’t leak and can be guaranteed of their quantity.
Ali expatiated, “But there is a bit more to petroleum products movement than just having tank wagons. The important thing to remember is that unlike other traffics, the point of loading and offloading is where there are always safety concerns. The first thing we do in our discussions with some of the oil marketers is how to create access to the tank farms and as we speak, we have contracts to rehabilitate all the lines to the tank farms of the major oil marketers.
“The lines are currently being built and rehabilitated to their terminals. We also have ongoing discussions with most of them about the facilities that are required to trans-load the products from their tank farms into the tank wagons. We also consider the fact that these materials are highly combustible, so safety is always the key concern for us.”
Speaking with the Daily Trust, the spokesman of NRC, Mr. Abdur-raouf Akinwoye disclosed the corporation had commenced talks with oil marketers in the country with a view to partnering with them in lifting their products to all parts of Nigeria.
Apart from the movement of petroleum, the NRC has also commenced movement of cement usually conveyed through heavy duty vehicles and trucks, a situation that constitutes danger to commuters on the highways.
Akinwoye said “We are moving petroleum products from Lagos to Kano. We are equally moving cement from the Lafarge company to all parts of the country. We have gone into discussions with oil marketers to let them know that we have all it takes to move petroleum products from tank farms in Lagos to all parts of the country”.
Observers say the revamping of the rail transportation system would have more impact on Nigerians with the resuscitation of movement of petroleum products and haulage services by the NRC. This was the case in the early days of the NRC when the rail mode of transportation was vibrant. The move, according to stakeholders, would not in any way send truck drivers off the road completely. It would, however, reduce the number of tankers and heavy-duty trucks, with the resultant effect being reduction of carnage caused on the roads.