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Lagos-Kano narrow gauge freight operations begins December — Minister

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Lagos-Kano narrow gauge freight operations begins December — Minister

The Minister of Transportation, Sen. Sa’idu Alkali, has said that the freight wagon haulage on the narrow gauge from Lagos to Kano will begin in the next three months.

Alkali made the disclosure during his visit to Kajola Wagon Assembly Plant in Ogun, on Tuesday.

He said the railway corporation was using standard gauge to carry cargo from Lagos to Ibadan. but will begin the operation from Apapa to Kano in three months time.

Alkali said that the Federal Government had already fixed the narrow gauge from Lagos to Kano, and will now get some locomotives and wagons to take containers from Apapa and move them to Kano.

“Once we evacuate containers from Lagos, we will use the narrow gauge to move them to Kano,” Alkali said.

After visiting some of the railway facilities, the Minister directed the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria, to look into the cleanliness of the coaches, to enhance patronage on railways.

Okhiria, on his part, said that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, being the port regulator, and the former Minister of Transportation set up a ministerial committee headed by the the former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation to look into freight charges.

He said that the purpose of the committee was to ensure smooth operation of freight rail.

“The impact on NRC is that the terminals are charging 60, 000 per containers for moving the container to the wagon freight, which is still higher than the movement on trucks, and the Shippers’ Council is working on that.

” The terminal charges are high because of the double handling; presently, moving cargo by rail is more expensive than road but is faster.

“We are looking to see how we can do it, we have minimum operational cost, and we don’t need to go and borrow money to buy diesel, that is why we are starting the freight rail movement of cargo handling now,” Okhiria said.

He said that NRC had begun the freight rail movement from the port pending when they receive order from the Minister to reduce charges.

Okhiria said that NRC was operating the rail freight with the narrow gauge before now, but stopped due to security issues.

He said the corporation would use a month to repair all the vandalised tracks on the narrow gauge, adding that the management would assemble all the wagons and service them before putting them on track.

Okhira said that NRC had about 120 narrow gauge wagons, as the Federal Government had been proactive and the corporation had placed order through the China Civil Engineering Construction Company.

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Job Losses, Factory Closures Loom As Unsold Goods Pile Up — MAN

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AGAINST the backdrop of sustained pressure in the foreign exchange market and high cost of production, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN has indicated that inventory of unsold goods is escalating to levels now threatening the existence of companies operating in the production sector of the economy with attendant job losses.

Findings show that as of the weekend the foreign exchange market had recorded over 254 per cent plunge in the value of the naira since flotation of the currency by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in June 2023.

Recall that the naira traded for N471 per dollar in the official I&E market on June 13, 2023 before the floatation of the currency, but exchanged for N1,665.50 to a dollar as at February 23, 2024 on the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM), indicating a depreciation of more than 253.6 per cent over the eight-month period. The forex crisis is also stoking inflation, and coupled with high energy costs, purchasing power has continued plummet, stifling demand for goods.

Speaking on the impact of this development on the manufacturing sector, Director General, MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said: “There are reports that across the board, many warehouses and plants of many manufacturing firms are stockpiled with unsold goods manufactured last year. “The development is as a result of the devastating effects of the exchange rate crisis, inflation, fake and sub-standard goods, smuggling and other macro-economics challenges.”

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CBN Lifts Ban On BDCs, Introduces New Operational Mechanism

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In a major development aimed at financial stability and strengthening the naira, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plans to resume its weekly intervention in the country’s foreign exchange (FX) market through the Bureau de Change (BDC) operators.

In 2021, the central bank, in a bid to achieve its mandate of safeguarding the value of the local currency, ensuring financial system stability, and shoring up external reserves, announced the immediate discontinuance of foreign currency sales to Bureau de Change (BDC) operators in the country.

However, the resumed intervention, which would reportedly commence today for funding as well as Tuesday for collection, will see the apex bank inject FX into the subsector in a bid to rescue the naira from further depreciation against major currencies, particularly the US Dollar. The collection will be at designated CBN branches in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Awka, while details of the naira accounts to be credited for funding bidding will also be made available today.

CBN is also expected to publish the list of eligible BDCs to benefit from its funding using certain compliance criteria.National Executive Council of Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) hinted on the latest developments through a memo to its members over the weekend.

The association also warned members that it will no longer be business as usual under the new supervisory regime of the central bank, as any infringement or infraction would result in outright revocation of license and prosecution.

ABCON said through the association’s various engagements with the central bank, in conjunction with ABCON’s strategic partners, CBN had agreed to its request, under the bank’s supervision, to inject liquidity into the market through a weekly intervention beginning today.

CBN assured ABCON that the new circular on the Revised Regulatory and Supervisory Guidelines to BDCs, which was introduced over the weekend, was only a draft exposure that required the association’s inputs before the release of the final guidelines by the apex bank.

To that effect, the letters of the guidelines were not cast in stone, the association’s leadership told its members, who had been worried over the sweeping reforms in the document, which, among other things, prescribed N2 billion and N500 million minimum capital for national and state BDCs, respectively.

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