CILT Bemoans Poor Performance of Railway, Inland Waterways

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Eromosele Abiodun

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), Nigeria has bemoaned the low contribution of the rail and inland waterways to movement of freight tonnage across the country.

The National President of CILT, Ibrahim Jibril expressed this at the 2018 annual general meeting (AGM) of the institute in Lagos, tagged, “Trucks in Freight Logistics: Issues in Nigeria Economic Development.”

He said Nigeria’s hope to drive down inflation should not only be through cost effectiveness in economic regulation of our ports but also with the pricing of the freight for truck services.

Jibril said that the railways and inland waterways transportation contributes less than four per cent and one per cent per cent respectively to freight movement in the country.

According to him, “The railway which used to contribute over 40 per cent of the freight tonnage movement in Nigeria in the 1960 and 1970 had over two decades ago declined to a low level of less than four per cent of tonnage haulage. The inland waterways usage for internal mobility and distribution was still at their informal level and aggregated to less than one per cent of the volume because Nigeria was yet to put many of the inland ports being developed into any meaningful use especially when one evaluates the state of readiness of such inland ports like the one at Onitsha or Lokoja, which had recently been commissioned.”

The CILT boss, who commended the development of the nation’s aviation industry, regretted that the nation relied mostly on truck to grow the economy.

“Our aviation sector is beginning to pick up. Our locally generated traffic in this sector composed of the heavy electoral materials lifted during the last national election circle. The other sizeable component relates to the consignments from the Courier services and the online shopping shipments.

“It should be recognised that there are small pockets of aggregate tonnes of loads from very informal sector, carrying farm produce to the city centres. In the light of the scenario painted above, it is therefore clear that it is just the road trucks that we, as a nation, had relied upon to grow our economy, “he said.
He also decried the nation’s inability to fashion out an ideal way to effectively deploy trucks which the economy relied upon for over 85 per cent of its physical distribution system.

He said inability to deploy the trucks effectively constitutes a challenge to efficient productivity, prudence in the deployment of the mobile units, ease of doing business, cost saving, as well as good logistics planning.

He added: “In fact, whatever dissatisfying adjective you chose to qualify your frustration of our waste of resources in the idling of these trucks, in the introduction of congestion charges by a shipping company, would simply fit in.”
He further pointed out that the situation where Nigeria found itself in the freight logistics equation can simply be described as unfortunate and unhealthy economically stating that there is concern for a change in policy.

He said: “To the investors, their expected returns are not being met. To the crews, they no longer work the expected hours a week or a trip as they are held up on the queue around Lagos for upwards of 168 hours in just going to deliver empty containers. The International Labour Organisation, said 40 working hours a week has been established whereas some of the crews of these trucks spend this time, four times over at a stretch in a week or so in only accessing the ports to either drop or lift up loads. If you integrate this length of time in accessing the port into the time for leaving the port, the crew would have spent over 336 hours continuous working hours, without signing off duty.

“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we are simply looking at the duration these people are on duty, irrespective of whether or not they are actually moving their trucks. This fact is to highlight the difficulties of this time as we learn that in the course of the last two months, not less than three truck drivers had died while waiting on the queue and on active duty. As a professional body for this industry, we are concerned and worried about these developments.”