OrderPaperToday – Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno) has told the Senate how he stood in the train for two hours to avoid plying the deadly Abuja-Kaduna highway.
Given the experience, he urged for the increase in the number of coaches on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line.
According to Ndume, his motion followed an experience where he had to stand for two hours in the train after receiving a ticket tagged ‘STD’ which he mistook for ‘standard’ instead of ‘standing.’
To his surprise, he had to stand throughout the journey. Sadly, no one offered him a seat in spite of his high status in society.
Moving a motion in the red chamber on Wednesday, Mr. Ndume expressed concern over the “undue pressure” on existing facilities at the Abuja Kaduna railway line due to increased killings and kidnappings that occur in road transport within the axis.
This, he stated, has led to rowdiness during ticket purchase and survival of the fittest for passengers willing to buy tickets across the counter as officials, deliberately hoard and sell tickets to the highest bidders.
He noted that the daily schedule for Abuja Kaduna from Monday to Sunday are 7:00am, 2:00pm and 6:00pm except for Wednesday with only two trips at 7:00am and 6:00pm while a huge numbers of travelers jostle for tickets sold at N1, 500 after queuing for about two hours to enable them stand for two hours trip.
In Senator Shehu Sani’s contribution, he indicated that Kaduna-Abuja is “one of the most dangerous roads” in Nigeria.
He added: “Unless the Federal Government finds a way to curb insecurity, the train will continue to be a safe haven for both the rich and poor. Whoever conceived the idea of building a train from Abuja-Kaduna has done well.”
For Senator James Manager, the road is “not one of the most dangerous roads but is the most dangerous.”
According to Manager, “it is one who wants to commit suicide that will take the road.
“In fact, we are oppressing the poor by using the train. This is why you will someone like Senator Ali Ndume abandon the Abuja-Kaduna road for the train.
“Something has to be done but it will take a while. That train station is very impossible to all of us. Standing in the train may also not be the solution.”
The chairman of land transport committee of the Senate, Senator Gbenga Ashafa (APC, Lagos) stated that he had just returned from China on the issue.
He said: “We have paid for 64 coaches but only 12 will brought back to Nigeria. Our main problem is funding. If we are able to fund, we will have more locomotives.”
Ashafa proposed that the Federal government focus on Warri-Itakpe railway “that doesn’t have enough patronage, reduce the coaches and add to Abuja-Kaduna. About reducing the fare, let’s focus more on the coaches.”
In Ndume’s prayers, the Federal Government was urged to deploy more coaches to the Abuja Kaduna rail Line to ameliorate the plight of passengers.
An additional prayer asked the Nigerian Railway Corporation to carry out a study to review the date structure in relation to the cost.
It was also asked that the corporation increase the number of frequency of train commute from Abuja to Kaduna.