…As govt announces over N5bn loses
The Federal Government has announced that the Abuja-Kaduna train services will resume operations in November this year.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, announced this on Monday while giving the scorecard of his ministry in Abuja.
It was repoted that terrorists attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train on March 28, 2022, kidnapping 168 passengers and killing eight others.
The release of the victims had been in batches since then, with the last 23 released in October.
“Adequate security has been put in place to ensure the safety of passengers,” Sambo stated. He, however, did not give any specific date for the resumption.
This came as findings by The PUNCH showed that the Federal Government lost over N5.37bn since the suspension of the train service in March.
It was gathered that the Abuja-Kaduna train service had been suspended since the last 224 days. The coaches on the train have the capacity to take about 900/1000 passengers per trip.
The Abuja-Kaduna train service operates eight trips daily. Before the suspension of the service, an average economy ticket sold for N2,800 – N3,000, while VIP tickets went for N6,000/seat.
This indicated that the Nigerian Railway Corporation earned about N3m per trip for a train conveying 1,000 passengers at ticket price of N3,000/ticket.
For the eight trips operated daily, the NRC would earn about N24m, while for the 224 days, the corporation would have garnered about N5.376bn.
Idayat Yusuf, who had two of her sisters kidnapped during the train attack, urged the government to ensure proper security of the trains.
She said the families of the victims were the most affected during the ordeal, adding that the national disaster must not be allowed to happen again.
“What we felt, the government didn’t feel it; what we went through, the government didn’t go through it. We know what happened to us, and we don’t want it to happen to an average Nigerian, we don’t want it to happen again in our country.”
The Chairman of the Victims’ Families, Othman Aminu, said he could board the train, and advise anyone else to board, noting that many had taken to road travel, which was the same as taking the train.
He, however, called on the government to double whatever security measures they had already put in place, to ensure adequate security, adding that the faster the security agencies could receive information, the quicker they would act.
A rail worker who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said since the train kidnap victims had all been released, and people were already traveling to Kaduna by road, he saw no reason why the train could not also resume operations.
“Now that they have released the kidnapped victims, and everything has been made public, people are still traveling to Kaduna, even without the train. So, the way I see it, if that is possible, then the train is also possible”.
The National President of the Nigerian Railway Workers, Innocent Ajiji, said workers might not resume work until the union was taken through the security measures put in place by the authorities.
He said the union had written to the minister on the matter but had yet to get feedback.
Ajiji said, “We are not satisfied with anything at all because of all these arrangements they are doing, we are yet to be in the picture about it. Earlier, we wrote a letter to the Ministry of Transportation demanding an audience on this matter.
“The minister has not granted us audience nor replied our letter. So we heard the news just like everyone. Nothing has been done concerning our members going back to work. We are not satisfied with the security apparatus they are putting in place. No member will resume work.”