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Crisis brews over plan to unbundle Nigerian Railway Corporation

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The plan by the Federal Government to unbundle the Nigerian Railway Corporation into four separate companies as part of its efforts to modernise the railway system may run into troubled water unless further consultations are made and the process redirected.

Already, some stakeholders including experts and railway workers’ union have faulted the process, saying proper channel is not being followed by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, which is spearheading the course of action. Indeed, there are indications that the Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly set up a presidential committee to be chaired by the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, with a mandate to study the process and make recommendations for the unbundling of the NRC into four separate companies namely: operations, infrastructure management, regulations and marketing.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, had earlier said, “I have discussed with the managing director (of the NRC) that there is the need to break Nigerian Railway Corporation into three: One that owns the assets – the tracks and is in charge of maintenance of the tracks and all railway assets and then one that operates. So, you have the Nigerian Railway Corporation that does the running of passenger trains and all that; then you have one that does marketing and all that.”

But Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Railway workers, Segun Esan, said the idea of unbundling the NRC should not be handled by the Transportation ministry, arguing that it was doomed.

Although the NUR secretary, who spoke with our correspondent on Monday via the telephone, said the union was going to meet in a few day’s time on the issue and come out an official position.

He said, “This should not be a preoccupation of the Federal Ministry of Transportation to unbundle the NRC. It is not on its schedule. They are starting on a wrong footing. The union has not deliberated on the matter yet but our position will not be different from what we had struggled against in the past.

“We will meet in the coming days on the issue and give it a thorough analysis to enable us to come out with well informed and dispassionate decision.”

When pressed further to explain what the union’s position had been on similar issues in the past, Esan said, “As much as I don’t want to preempt the union, we all know what happed to NEPA, which was unbundled into Discos and Gencos. They promised us 24 hours of uninterrupted electricity. But the current situation has been on the contrary.”

Although some stakeholders have supported the need to unbundle the NRC into specialised companies, they insisted that it is the duty of the Bureau of Public Enterprise to lead the unbundling process.

The Guardian on Sunday quoted Chief Executive Officer, Bethlehem Rail, London, Roland Ataguba, as saying only the BPE is empowered under the law to restructure public enterprises including the railway.

He said, “With the best will in the world, a patient is unlikely to perform surgery on itself successfully. It will always err on the side of least pain. This would be the second time HMT is setting up a committee “to unbundle” the NRC. The good news is that whatever they come up with has to go to the National Assembly for legislation. We will meet them there.”

Railway

As Abuja-Kaduna train resumes, NRC gives passengers Nov 6 for unused tickets

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Train operations on the Abuja-Kaduna route resumed on Saturday, after they were suspended on Thursday following an attack that damaged the rail track.

The Nigerian Railway Corporation has given passengers with unused tickets two weekends ending on November to make use of the tickets or forfeit them.

Two reported attacks on Wednesday night and Thursday morning said to have been executed with the use of explosives led to damage on the rail track.

In one of the attacks, the window of the driver compartment of the train was reportedly shattered. This prompted the corporation to suspend the train ride along the route.

But the NRC restored the train services on Saturday after carrying out adequate repairs on the damaged track and beefing up security along the route.

On Saturday when train services resumed along the route, there was a report of low turnout of passengers.

Some of the passengers, who acknowledged improved armed security presence on the train and along the track said they could not use their pre-purchased tickets as the railway officials claimed they had no order to accept them.

A statement issued by the NRC later said customers would have two weeks (ending November 06) to use tickets for rides scheduled during the period operations were cancelled.

The corporation also asked affected customers to give 48-hour notice before their scheduled trips with the unused tickets.

The statement read in part, “Dear esteemed customers, service has been restored on the Abuja-Kaduna service.

“Customers with unused tickets for the 21st and 22nd of October should kindly contact the customer care unit (customercare@tps.ng and 01 888 7741) for rescheduling.

“Kindly give 48-hour notice ahead of new travel date. This offer is open for the next 2 weeks and will expire on the 6th of November, 2021. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience.”

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Abuja-Kaduna train resumes operation Saturday – NRC

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Barely 24 hours after suspending the Abuja-Kaduna trains for safety reasons, the Nigerian Railway Corporation says the services will resume Saturday October 23.

The suspension followed an explosion attack by hoodlums on the Abuja-Kaduna rail track Wednesday evening, which the corporation said affected the locomotive tank of a Kaduna-bound train.

Although there have been conflicting accounts of the attack with some attributing it to bandit or terrorist attack, the Managing Director of the corporation said in an interview on Friday night that the NRC team of engineers and technicians had fixed the problem and was certified that the train service could resume on the route after carrying out extensive an inspection of the line.

The NRC also said in a statement issued Friday evening that the Abuja-Kaduna Train Services (AKTS) would “resume tomorrow, Saturday, 23rd October, 2021 as follows: From IDU, Abuja (AK3) at 0950am. From Rigasa, Kaduna (KA4) at 10.35am.”

The statement read in part, “The board and management of the Nigerian railway corporation (NRC) hereby inform the general public, particularly our valued passengers that Abuja-Kaduna Train Services (AKTS) resume tomorrow, Saturday, 23rd October, 2021 as follows: From IDU, Abuja (AK3) at 0950am. From Rigasa, Kaduna (KA4) at 10.35am. Subsequent train services continue.

“The NRC once again sincerely apologises for the inconvenience.”

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Just in: Nigerian railway suspends Abuja-Kaduna train services over safety

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The Nigeria Railway Corporation has announced the suspension of train services on the Abuja-Kaduna route.

It said on Thursday that the decision was taken for safety purposes after a section of the rail track was vandalised on Wednesday night.

Some Kaduna-bound passengers were reportedly forced to return to Abuja following the damage to the track.

An ex-senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, had tweeted on Thursday that there was a bandit attack on an Abuja-Kaduna train he was travelling in and had a miraculous escape with other passengers.

But the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Mr Fidet Okhiria, said it was an attack by vandals on the rail track.

The corporation said in a statement on its website on Thursday that train services had been suspended on Abuja-Kaduna route for the safety of passengers and crew members.

It added that efforts were being put in place to ensure maximum safety along the route.

It also further information about the suspension would be conveyed to the public later.

Daily Trust reported that hundreds of passengers were stranded at Rigasa Railway Station in Kaduna on Thursday morning.

The report stated that most of the passengers that booked ‎their train tickets online later resorted to travelling by road.

An NRC official at the station told the passengers that there was a problem with the train and so there would be no train.

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