The Minister of Transportation Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, has disclosed that full train service on the Abuja-Kaduna rail corridor will resume in a week’s time.
The Minister disclosed this on Sunday during an inspection tour of the Abuja-Kaduna rail line in preparation for the full resumption of the train service which has been shut down for over seven months.
Speaking on the reason for the inspection, he said “I traveled from Idu to Rigasa to assess the state of readiness of train service between Abuja and Kaduna.
“Several measures have been put in place to ensure that lives and properties will be secured when we resume services and I am satisfied with what I have seen. Of course, there are one or two areas that need to be addressed and we are going to address them immediately.
There are increased numbers of security personnel and without mincing words, some of the security personnel may not be in uniform to guarantee the safety of the traveling public. There are other sensitive measures that we have deployed which I will not reveal”, he noted.
Speaking further on plans ahead of the full resumption, the Minister said, “Also, on every journey, the train is monitored every second on a screen and the train driver can see up to a certain distance if there is any threat on the track, that will enable him to match the brakes long before getting to the perceived threat.“On the issue of whether the train service will start tomorrow or not, we have not said the train services will start tomorrow. I want to be very categorical about that”, he explained.
Furthermore, the Minister disclosed that a new system has been introduced to ensure that before passengers purchase tickets, they will be required to provide a phone number and National Identification Number (NIN) for profiling which is the beginning of the security checks.“If you don’t have NIN you are not going to board our train. It is as simple as that. If you are a minor, an adult will pay for you and will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.“The NIN will take care of racketeering and it is one of the reasons we introduced it. Only one human is entitled to a NIN and I don’t see how one person will get multiple NINs. In any case, at the point of the departure lounge, the profile of the person will have to show and if it is not shown, you don’t get access. It is as simple as that. So, if you get 20 tickets, 19 will be useless and your money will be wasted.
“Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these and assimilate this new system because if we start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled. They will ask; why didn’t they tell us? Is this the new way of doing it? Why didn’t they give us adequate time to do it? So we want to give adequate time, certainly not more than a week.”Furthermore, Sambo announced that the number of trips will be reduced while advising passengers to prepare for an increase in fares. According to him, “The number of trips will be reduced. Naturally, you should expect that a certain number of passengers will not be comfortable boarding the train for obvious reasons. So, we will reduce the number of trips and as the traveling population picks up, we will increase the number of trips but we will certainly not travel at night for now.“Please, expect an increase in fares. I am having final consultation with the management of NRC and the management of the ministry to see whether it will be immediate or we will take a little time.“We all know that prices of things have gone up, even airfares have gone up and we have not heard anybody cry about it. Why is it that it’s only when it is train fares that people are reactive? I can assure you that the poor masses will be taken care of and considered because we are a very sensitive government”, he said.