Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi has ordered the sack of any staff of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) involved in rail ticket racketeering.
Amaechi gave the order on Friday at the Federal Ministry of Transportation annual ministerial press briefing in Abuja.
He said all passengers must show their means of identification which must match their train tickets before boarding.
He decried the alleged growing incidences of sharp practices by ticket sellers on the Abuja-Kaduna route, lamenting that some complain that tickets of N2.500 are sometimes sold at N10.000 by racketeers.
According to him, Nigerians are breaching the electronic ticketing system put in place for efficiency and accountability, warning that such actions can compromise national security.
“We must match the tickets to face carrying the ticket so that we don’t run into security problem. Security is central, a man who may be a bomber may be given a ticket that is not meant for him and then we are in trouble ” he said.
Managing Director NRC Fidet Ohkiria explained that the restriction to two ticket purchases at a time was to block racketeering but racketeers had found ways to circumvent the restriction.
Among them, some users use multiple email accounts so “they could keep buying multiple tickets for reselling at exorbitant costs,” he said.
“We also meet every week to see how we can improve the experience and close loopholes.”
The Minister also disclosed that the federal government is about to begin construction of four new rail projects across the country.
He said that government had already obtained funds for some of the projects and is now waiting for cabinet approval to commence work.
“The ones we are about to start are Ibadan-Kano, that, we are waiting for fund from China, Port Harcourt-Maiduguri, we have a bit of the fund, but we are waiting for the cabinet to approve. We are also about to start Kano-Maradi, and Lagos-Calabar rail lines. But, one thing that is unique in all these projects is that the President early enough in his government directed that all rail lines must terminate at the Seaports. There is a bit of adjustments in the pricing because we had to adjust Kano-Maradi to link up to Kano-Lagos so that it will terminate at Lagos seaport. The Port Harcourt-Maiduguri is not only terminating at Port Harcourt seaport, it is going from Port Harcourt seaport to Bonny, where we are building a deep seaport” he said.
Amaechi said the 185.5km Lagos-Ibadan double standard guage line with extension to Apapa seaport was nearing completion, while the 186km Abuja-Kaduna and 302km Warri-Itakpe standard guage lines had been completed and were functional.
According to the minister, the Itakpe-Warri rail line, is a project many confirmed had drastically reduced transport fare to and from that axis.
Amaechi said economic considerations informed the decision to settle for narrow gauge for the reconstruction of the Eastern Rail line, from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
“Some people may say why did you have to build narrow gauge for the Eastern line, simple, the answer is we had two approvals, the two approvals are as follows: we have a standard gauge approval that is between $11 to $14 billion for Port Harcourt with the same alignment, no changes, but it is costlier”
Earlier, Dr Magdalene Ajani, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, stated all arrangements are in place to deliver the National Transport Policy by July 31, 2021.