Determined to safeguard the rail infrastructure, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, minister of Transportation has given assurance that the Federal Government will implement far-reaching, all-round security strategies to ensure the safety of passengers, personnel and assets along the Abuja-Kaduna rail corridor and other rail corridors in the country.
Sambo stated this at a meeting with members of the Nigerian Union of Railway Workers in Abuja said part of the strategies to be adopted is a 24/7 online real-time monitoring of the Abuja-Kaduna rail corridor.
The minister said a command centre will be set up for the Abuja-Kaduna rail corridor to monitor the movement of the train. Also, a monitoring device will be installed in the train which will enable the train captain to view the rail tracks up to 2 km ahead.
According to him, strategies have also been put in place to ensure adequate screening and identification of passengers on board the train, adding that it has become necessary to prevent certain categories of passengers from gaining unhindered entry into the train.
In this regard, the Minister explained that “to buy a ticket, a passenger would be required to present his National Identification Number (NIN). After ticket purchase, before gaining entrance to the lounge, the passenger would be required to place his ticket on a validator which would display information about the passenger, including his picture. The passenger would only be allowed to board the train after necessary validation and authentication”.
According to him, “There is going to be armed uniform and plain clothes security operatives onboard the train. Trained police personnel would also be stationed at all the stations along the Abuja-Kaduna corridor. A response team would also be put in place, some of whom would be on motorbikes, some in land rovers. “.
While noting that the current security in the country will soon be surmounted, the Minister expressed optimism that the proposed security plan will be approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in the coming week.
“The proposal was earlier taken to the FEC, but the Council had asked for more clarification and clearance from NITDA. It will be represented having gotten the necessary clarifications and clearance”, he said.
Responding to the requests by the Railways Workers Association, the Minister promised to look into the issue of the condition of service and also push for the implementation of salary enhancement for the railway workers.
The Minister directed that a nine-man committee be set up to deliberate on the issue of monetization of staff quarters and come up with acceptable and implementable recommendations.
Innocent Ajiji, President of the Nigerian Union of Railway Workers, called on the minister to intervene and help find lasting solutions to some problems being faced by members of the Association.
He enumerated the problems to include the incessant attacks on the trains, poor condition of service of railway workers, poor remuneration and the monetization of staff quarters.