As the federal government reopens the Abuja-Kaduna railway for full operation on Monday, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria, has said the government lost about N113 million to inactivity in the route for over eight months.
Okhiria disclosed this Saturday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He also said many Nigerians also incurred some losses indirectly due to the halt of operations on the route.
He said, “The last time we checked that was between the months of February to August. We have lost about N113 million.
“Using what we were earning between January and March; so, we had to use it as a working document.
“Although, when the trains were working, there were a lot of other businesses that were going on.
“There were people selling on the train; there were people selling around the stations, and there were people that had opened shops and people were patronising them because the trains were running.
“So, those were indirect benefits and cost that have been lost to the Nigerian economy.
“More so, somebody, who would have travelled from Kaduna to Abuja via train for some form of transaction and couldn’t make it because the trains were not running would have also lost something.
“The economic benefits are also lost; so, we should not only look at the Naira and kobo that railway would have been able to make from it, but include all other losses by Nigerians.”
Okhiria assured Nigerians of the collaboration of the armed forces in the country to ensure safety of passengers and trains when the Abuja-Kaduna train service would resume tomorrow December 5.
He said aside the security personnel involvement, the government had deployed technology among other things to ensure the incident of March 28, does not reoccur in the country.
“I appreciate the contributions of the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Air Force, and Inspector-General of Police.
“The way they have taken up this challenge, we are confident that such a thing will never happen on our rail system again based on the attention they are paying to the track now.
“We are human beings and we have done our own and they’ve contributed their own. We will ensure that we will not slack.
“The government has put forth some measures and this is the best we can do for now while we continue to improve on security and safety of the train.
“The best thing is for us to open our eyes and report anything we suspect. We cannot disclose all what we have put in place as I said earlier.
“And security is the duty of everybody , you don’t need to carry guns or arms to be a security man, if you report any suspicious thing, perhaps you can save lives,” Okhiria said.
The NRC boss reiterated that every passenger willing to board the train must be profiled with the use of the NIN so as to obtain the passenger’s information on NIMC platform.
He said, “The information will be displayed, you can see it yourself. If your picture is not displayed when you put your ticket to get to the platform you cannot gain access.
On patronage, the NRC boss expressed optimism that there would be influx of customers as passengers were eager for the trains to commence operation on the route.
“From what I have seen and from the people calling my phone, even before we tried to commence the train, people are still very enthusiastic about using the train.
“So, many people have been calling to ask, when are you starting?
“But we are going to start gradually, by deploying two trains up and two trains down and we will ensure that we don’t run night for now.
“We expect that in no time, people will sit back and watch and the normal services will commence on the route,” Okhiria said.
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja with agency report