The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Nigeria has said that the Abuja-Kaduna rail line has been greatly under-utilized as a result of government’s inability to procure more trains to run the route and maximally utilize the track.
The National Executive Director, CILT, Mr. Paul Ndibe who disclosed this in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos said that the line cannot be said to be adequately utilized when it is only one train set that runs the route.
Ndibe added that the country is losing in terms of line capacity as the track has not been fully occupied even as he noted that government should at least increase the frequency of service by bringing in additional train sets so that that service can be more functional and then more efficient.
“There has been announcement of huge investments in the railway sector but in real terms, they are not there. My thinking about the situation would have been that let us see what the railway is like. You cannot be successfully using one train set to run Abuja-Kaduna and you say you are operating; we are losing in terms of line capacity because the tracks have not been fully occupied, you cannot run that route with only one train set and may be two trains a day- up and down. That is not railway operation.
“So, if government wants to have full realization of Abuja-Kaduna route that we can say yes, we have close to a modern railway, I am not talking about the speed because the speed has its own issue but the frequency of service is not there. So, government should at least increase the frequency of service by bringing in additional train sets so that that service can be more functional and then more efficient.
“If you have more trains running on that route, because the fixed costs are being attained and those fixed costs, somebody is picking those fixed costs. If you have more trains on that route and having meet your fixed costs, whatever incremental costs you are making will add to your income generation level but if you are running a lower number of trains and meeting a higher maximum standard cost in terms of fuelling generators, putting up staff, manning the signaling equipment, of course, you will not make any money. So, nobody has told us whether that line is making money or not but I am saying that from what I can perceive, it is not making money.
“So, for federal government to sustain that line, they need to put in additional train sets so that the standard costs, having been met now, the additional trains you are running can add to the income generation capacity of the corporation.
“Beyond that, they have been making so many announcements on new projects but the existing ones are not being sustained. One would have expected that by now, trains going to Kano, considering the narrow gauge of the Lagos-Kano route, the nature of the tracks, the nature of signaling system, the train may not be able to get to Kano under 36 hours because they have a maximum speed they have to run on that route. Government should think of, even if it is the 36 hours, do you have sufficient rolling stock to ply the route? If you don’t have sufficient rolling stock, what is the problem? Bring in sufficient rolling stock let us see what the current railway can offer, then we can base on that expect a better railway in future. But we are not seeing it”, he said.
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