The Federal Government through the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, has said the planned resumption of the Abuja-Kaduna train services previously scheduled for today was no longer possible.
Sambo explained that some ticketing process needed to be sorted out stressing that the corridor has been fully secured and ready for operations but with the new requirements for ticketing. He said there was need for a little extension of time maybe by days or at most, one week.
Sambo, who stated this while on an inspection train ride from Abuja to Kaduna, with other dignitaries, said resumption would be extended by one week to allow the passengers to be properly enlightened on the new process of obtaining tickets and other requirements.
On the number of trips, he said: “The number of trips will be reduced. Naturally, you should expect that a certain number of passengers will not be comfortable to board the train for obvious reasons.
“We are human beings; we are bound to feel a little bit uncomfortable until we can see that every security measure has been put in place. So, we will reduce the number of trips and as the travelling population picks up, we will increase the number of trips but we will certainly not travel at night for now.
“Please, expect increase in fares. I am having final consultation with the management of NRC and the management of the ministry to see whether it will be immediate or we will take a little time.”
The transportation minister further said, “The issue of whether the train will start tomorrow or not, we have not said the train services will start tomorrow (Monday) I want to be very categorical about that. Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket.
“The purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a National Identification Number(NIN) in order to profile because that is the beginning of the security checks.
“So, at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another we know who and who are on board. If you don’t have NIN you are not going to board our train. After buying the ticket, you will be given a barcode that would help you gain access into the lounge, when the machine reads the barcode on your receipt, it shows your complete profile only then will you be allowed to into the the lounge.
“This kind of security measures is according to global best practice as profiling of the passenger is necessary to know who is coming on board.”He said for minors, an adult would only register not more than four minors before using the train service.
“It is as simple as that. If you are a minor, an adult will pay for you and will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.“Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these and assimilate this new system? Because if we start Monday, a lot of people will be disgruntled. You may start hearing things like, “why didn’t they tell us that this is the new way of doing it? Why didn’t they give us adequate time to do it?“So we want to give you adequate time. Definitely between three, four, five days, certainly not more than a week.”
On the rail-line security , the minister said ” We have increased number of security personnel and without mincing words, some of these security personnel may not be in uniform in order to guarantee to safety of the traveling public. There are other sensitive measures that we have deployed which I will not reveal.“Also, on every journey, the train is monitored every second on a screen and the train driver can see up to a certain distance if there is any threat on the track, that will enable him match the brakes long before getting to the perceived threat.”