Minister urges swift transition of railway to LNG-CNG

In a push towards cost-effectiveness and sustainability, the minister of transportation, Said Alkali, has called for an immediate technical assessment of transitioning Nigeria’s railway system to LNG-CNG fuel, citing its cost-effectiveness and domestic availability.

The move aligns with the Nigerian Railway Corporation’s pursuit of sustainable energy sources, aiming to reduce reliance on expensive diesel.

Alkali reaffirmed President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to providing efficient, affordable, and sustainable transportation, especially following the recent removal of fuel subsidies.

In a statement issued by the director, Press and Public Relations, Olujimi Oyetomi said, the LNG-CNG alternative was presented for joint consideration of the transport ministry and NRC by the De-Sadel consortium at the Transport Ministry’s headquarters.

The minister expressed hope that evaluation by the technical committee could hasten the process of the switch.

Thus, he gave the directive for immediate setting up of 7-men technical committee to work within 7 to 14 days and come up with far-reaching outcomes towards a successful implementation of a dual-fuel locomotive retrofit that could lead to further effective, efficient and possibly cheaper rail services for Nigerians as well as more revenue for government from its railways operations.

“It is the desire of our President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to provide an efficient, affordable, and sustainable transportation system for the people of this great country and I am sure this would go a long way in bringing down the cost of transportation,” he stated.

He identified as reasonable, the proposition by De-Sadel Company to retrofit their already available LNG-CNG kits on NRC’s locomotives at no cost to the government, and have the NRC’s locomotive replaced by the company in case of damage.

The minister, who was willing to take the risk of retrofitting an NRC’s locomotive by De-Sadel consortium immediately, asked the permanent secretary, Olufemi Oloruntola to constitute a combined team of mechanical engineers from the Transportation Ministry, the NRC and De-Sadel Consortium to get into action and prepare a locomotive of NRC ready for a test run.

He predicated his view on progressive combination of diesel-gas usage in a ratio of 50-50 and progressively to 30-70 and invariably, 0-100.

“A committee will be set up immediately after this interactive session, and they are to commence deliberations and discussions at the ministry’s headquarters. They are to advise and possibly have a gas-powered locomotive ready for test run within the very short possible time,” the minister directed.

The technical committee, which was immediately inaugurated, has since done the immediate task of evaluations.

It came up with a verdict that the retrofitting is doable after a visit to the NRC’s workshop at Idu, Abuja, to see the models of locomotives in use by the NRC. The technical committee’s visit to Idu, Abuja was undertaken on Wednesday, 13th of March, 2024.

Speaking earlier on their proposal, the managing director, De-Sadel Consortium, Sam Uko, explained that the company is in the business of retrofitting diesel engines to LNG-CNG models, and looking at the Nigerian Railway Corporation’s train services, it is ideal for the corporation and the ministry to look towards execution of this new technology on its trains.

According to him, adopting this will reduce the cost of operations and as well extend the life span of the engine, thus freeing up funds for other sectors.

Kehinde Olusegun

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