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Poor rail affecting port operations, says Bala-Usman

Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Managing Director,  Hadiza Bala-Usman, has warned that no country should contemplate establishing seaports without an adequate rail transportation system.

Usman, who cited Nigeria’s experience where ineffective port railway infrastructure affects port operations, emphasised in her welcome address at the beginning of the West Africa Rail Revolution Conference in Lagos, that rail transportation and linkages would continue to play a crucial role in seamless port operation.

The theme of the two-day conference was: “Defining the future of the transport infrastructure, maintenance and expansion in West Africa.”

She noted at the conference, which drew participants from several European and West African countries, that: “If anyone had any doubts as to the clog that poor railway infrastructure could be in the wheels of effective port operations, the challenges that we currently face with the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) and the Tin-Can Island (TCIP) would instruct you about why no country should contemplate establishing port without the complement of adequate rail transportation.”

A substantial part of the challenges being faced in the optimisation of the ports in Lagos area, which has extended to distort normal activities in Lagos, according to her, “is due to failure to provide adequate rail infrastructure in the first instance and the eventual failure and the dilapidation of the meagre structure that was available at the beginning”.

She explained the need for operators of the ports across Africa to embrace the economic benefit of the sector as a key player in the growth and development of their country’s economies, adding that this can only be realised through collaboration in the sharing of experience at resolving complex issues.

Bala-Usman said the conference that the Federal Government was assiduously working towards a more efficient port terrain  through the deployment of modern rail infrastructure, urging delegates to embrace the new agenda and explore possible means of taking it to the next level.

Director General/Chief Executive Officer Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission at the Presidency, Chidi. K. C Izuwah, in his welcome address reiterated the need for Africa to ensure that adequate provision is made for port infrastructure.

According to him, developed nations of the world have placed emphasis on developing their infrastructure, which would further enhance import operation and efficient delivery across board.