By Lucy Ogalue
Some stakeholders have called for improved security infrastructure on the trains, rail stations and its corridors to boost the people’s confidence in utilising the rail system around the country.
The stakeholders, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews, also urged the Federal Government to prioritise safety of lives and property of Nigerians at all times.
While commending the government for reviving the rail system in some parts of the country, they also urged on expansion of the system in other parts to ease movement of people and cargoes via the rail network.
A train passenger in Abuja, Mrs Amina Isah said she had been using the train on the Abuja- Kaduna route since commencement of services and it had been of tremendous help to her.
Isah said her family lived in Kaduna, while she worked in Abuja as an administrator in a private company.
“It used to be easy and cheaper and safer for me to travel from Kaduna and to Abuja via the trains before the issue of insecurity on the trains surfaced.
“Since the attack of passengers along the Abuja—Kaduna route, I have stopped travelling every week rather i go ones every month. And this is affecting my marriage and my home.
“The rail system is supposed to be one of the safest means of travelling and if citizens are scared to use this means for fear of being kidnapped, then there is a problem,” she said.
Another passenger, Mr Johnson Adams said he stopped using the train after the incident that occurred at the Edo train station.
Adams however reiterated that the Federal Government and all relevant authorities should seriously look at ways of securing train passengers in the country for the betterment of the country’s economy.
“After they kidnapped passengers along the Abuja—Kaduna route, and the promise by the government of an enhanced security system, I resumed using the trains.
“But since the recent attack and kidnapping of passengers at the train station Edo, I stopped using the trains and don’t intend to resume the services until I’m sure it is safe to do so.
“Aside the benefit of using the trains by passengers, the government also benefits from its functioning as it generates revenue for it.
“I am sure there are several passengers who like me have stopped using the trains and you know what that means, less revenue to government pockets.
“I honestly pray something is done soonest concerning this issue of insecurity in the country as a whole as it is affecting the citizens and their businesses,” he said.
Mr Alex Uche, a trader, also decried drop in his income due to the reduced number of travellers along the Abuja—Kaduna route.
“I live in Abuja but have a shop at the Rigasa Station where i sell food and drinks and for months now I barely make enough money to remain in business.
“Since the train attack, I think many people have either stopped travelling or rather travel by road because the number of people that stop by to eat at the station has drastically reduced.”
Mr Adams Audu, a Public Servant said the incident at the Edo train station, after much promises by the Federal Government to secure train stations around the country “calls for concern”.
“After what happened at the Abuja-Kaduna train route, I am aware that the Federal Government promised to ensure security measures at all the stations.
“I was surprised to hear of another attack on passengers in Edo. Even though the attack was not on the train.
“Honestly, this is very sad because it will discourage people from using the trains. Even I don’t think I will allow any of my relatives go near any station until something is done.”
Mr Godspower Akuranya, a passenger, commended efforts of the Federal Government and security personnel in the country in ensuring speedy release of the passengers kidnapped in Edo.
Akuranya however urged that rather than curative measures, government should make efforts to ensure a reoccurrence was avoided.
“I am happy and commend the government on what they are doing but I think a lot still needs to be done.
“The government ought to go beyond what it is doing at the moment to put an end to kidnapping of passengers and citizens, not just on train routes but around the country.
“This issue of kidnapping and insecurity is gradually turning into a norm and it is not good for the nation.
“As time goes by, it will not only take a toll on citizens but will prevent foreigners too from coming into the country for fear of being kidnapped for ransom.
“So all relevant authorities need to collaborate to put an end to this menace.”
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Mu’azu Sambo, had after the release of the last 23 hostages of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack assured that measures were in place to prevent reoccurrence of the incident.
Sambo said, “the Abuja Kaduna mishap was indeed a very sad one. And by the grace of God, we shall not witness anything like that again.
“Not only because we have committed that to prayer but we have also deliberately taken steps.
“Like you said, yes, indeed, lessons have been learned. And these lessons will be put in place to prevent it from happening again.”
Also, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Malam Mahmud Yakubu, after the release of the kidnapped victims in Edo also condemned the act, while urging Nigerians to be vigilant.
“All hands must be on deck to ensure the security of life and property of all Nigerians.
“The NRC Management enjoins all communities residing along the railway corridors to be security conscious by reporting any suspicious movement that is likely to cause breach of peace within their locality, to the nearest security agency or their community vigilante for quick intervention.
“Reporting to security agencies will help in keeping our society safe and protecting the Federal Government’s critical infrastructure constructed in their communities for their socio-economic benefits,” Yakubu said. (NAN)