By Uche Eletuo
Lagos – Some maritime stakeholders on Saturday commended the Federal Government for kick-starting the second segment of the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Rail System project.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Lagos that the project would bolster the economy for the common good of all.
NAN recalls that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, had on Thursday assured of the government’s readiness to link the Lagos Port Complex directly with rail.
Mr Stanley Ezenga, Spokesman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), told NAN that linking the ports with rail would help to reduce cost of freights.
“Every businessman aims to make profit and therefore, if the rail come on board, it will help reduce cost of clearing goods by port users.
“In this era of economy recession, such effort aimed at improving the lot of the masses, should be applauded,’’ Ezenga said.
According to him, the Lagos-Kano rail route will boost the economy as many states along the route will benefit from the facility with cheaper transportation.
He urged the Federal Government to also extend the facility to the south-eastern part of the country so as to reduce cost of doing business there.
Mr Lucky Amiwero, the President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), said that the facility was a part of the port reform that was long overdue.
“Linking terminals to other modes of transport like rail will help in the realisation of our objective of providing safe, reliable and efficient inter-modal transportation system.
“It is a step in the right direction as it will cushion the effect of the prevalent economic crunch,’’ Amiwero said.
He said that the project would also raise the confidence of importers and exporters on the safety of their goods.
“It would also have positive bearing on the price of items in the market and engender global competitiveness products.’’
NAN reports that the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Miss Hadiza Bala-Usman, on Thursday spoke on the need to have an efficient rail system.
Bala-Usman said it would ease the movement of agricultural produce and solid minerals from the locations of production in the hinterland to the nation’s seaports for export.
The NPA boss added that there was already a surge in export of agricultural produce as exemplified in frozen shrimps and prawns, sesame seed, cashew, soya beans and ginger among others.