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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Nigeria initiates shift to natural gas-powered rail locomotives in sustainability drive

Federal Government's Move Aims to Lower Costs and Enhance Efficiency Amid Fuel Subsidy Removal

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The Federal Government of Nigeria, led by Minister of Transportation Said Alkali, has embarked on a transformative journey to transition locomotives of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) from diesel to liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG), signaling a strategic shift towards sustainable energy sources and cost reduction in railway operations.

In a statement released by the ministry’s Director of Press and Public Relations, Olujimi Oyetomi, Alkali reiterated the administration’s commitment, under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to provide efficient, affordable, and environmentally sustainable transportation solutions in light of recent fuel subsidy removals.

The initiative took a significant step forward on Tuesday, March 12, 2024, as the De-Sadel consortium presented an LNG-CNG alternative for deliberation at the Ministry of Transportation’s headquarters, marking a pivotal moment in Nigeria’s transportation landscape.

Alkali expressed optimism that the transition to natural gas-powered locomotives could lead to enhanced efficiency and cost-effectiveness in rail services, particularly following the recent removal of fuel subsidies.

To expedite the process, Alkali directed the formation of a seven-member technical committee tasked with assessing the feasibility and potential benefits of retrofitting NRC’s locomotives with LNG-CNG technology. The committee was given a timeframe of seven to 14 days to deliver recommendations.

Emphasizing the gradual transition, Alkali outlined plans to commence with a 50-50 ratio of gas and diesel usage, progressively shifting to 30-70 and ultimately aiming for a full transition to gas.

Managing Director of De-Sadel Consortium, Sam Uko, highlighted the advantages of adopting LNG-CNG technology, including cost reduction and prolonged engine lifespan. Uko revealed the consortium’s readiness to supply gas for five years, addressing concerns about gas scarcity.

Beyond locomotive retrofitting, the consortium proposed comprehensive security installations along rail corridors to enhance safety and prevent vandalism. Real-time monitoring systems would be deployed to deter attacks, enabling trains to operate continuously and boosting revenue from gas usage.

The Federal Government’s strategic move underscores its commitment to sustainability and innovation in Nigeria’s transportation sector, paving the way for a greener, more efficient future in rail transportation.

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