By: Joy Odor
Indications that there is no hope of improved security on the dreaded Abuja-Kaduna road in the nearest future, emerged yesterday when the Senate urged the federal government to deploy more couches to rail line plying the road so as to ameliorate the plight of passengers who daily besieged railway stations in the two cities.
The Senate’s resolution came barely 24 hours after the acting Inspector General of Police, IGP, Muhammad Adamu briefed it in an executive session on the measures being adopted by the Police to improve security situation on the road and others across the country against the increasing activities of kidnappers, armed bandits and killer herdsmen.
This was sequel to a motion, titled “Urgent need to increase the number of couches to the Abuja-Kaduna rail line”, by Senator Ali Ndume, APC-Borno South during plenary.
Railway transportation, which is meant for the masses, have recently been hijacked by the elites, who daily jam-packed the stations for fear of either being kidnapped or attacked by armed bandits on the Abuja-Kaduna road described by lawmakers as the most dangerous in the country today.
To further save the situation, the upper legislative chamber urged the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, to increase the frequency of trips on the road for massive transportation of passengers.
It also advised the NRC to carry out a study to review rail transportation fare in relationship with the cost of operations with a view to making it affordable to the general public.
Presenting the motion, Ndume informed his colleagues about the undue pressure on the existing facilities at the Abuja-Kaduna railway line, noting that “most passengers en-route the road have turned to railway as a safer means of transportation”.
He added that “the surge in the patronage of the rail services may have been attributed to its safety, comfort, convenience and perhaps affordability, which have drawn many commuters following the high risks on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway that is threatened by kidnappers, armed robbers and other kinds of criminals”.
According to him, “this has led to rowdiness during ticket purchase and survival of the fittest for passengers willing to buy tickets across the counters as officials deliberately hoard and sold tickets to the highest bidders”.
Ndume said that the number of travellers jostle for tickets sold at N1, 500 after queuing for about two hours to enable them stand for two hours trip due to the increase in demand.
Contributing, the chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transportation, Senator Olugbenga Ashafa, informed that additional 12 couches out of 64 ordered from China by the federal government, would be delivered to the NRC within eight weeks.
Ashafa informed that about three of the couches would be allocated to railway plying Warri-Itakpe line, which he noted was not getting enough patronage, adding that lack of funds had been the major bane of the projects completion.
Other lawmakers, in their contributions, charged the federal government to find a lasting solution to the high rate of insecurity in the country.