By Ebunoluwa Olafusi | 3 December 2022
The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) says the increased cost of diesel and other logistics will be a significant determinant in the new price of train services.
In August, NRC reduced the number of trips on the Lagos-Ibadan route due to a hike in the price of diesel.
Fidet Okhiria, NRC managing director, in an interview with NAN on Saturday, said the increase in price would be done while considering the interests of Nigerians.
Okhiria called on passengers to make some sacrifices and collaborate with the corporation to ensure the continued provision of the service.
“It is better to have it operating than not operating. It is the service we are providing but in order to provide it, everybody has to make some sacrifices,” Okhiria said.
“The major cost should be the cost of diesel. Because we require diesel to operate the trains.
“The cost of diesel has gone up by more than three times and it is costing us to mount human and material security that it requires to keep the trains operating.
“We need to service the infrastructure we put in place for the additional security we secured and the additional personnel that will be going up and down to assist; they need some incentives.
“So everybody should collaborate to ensure the trains are working because we can’t afford to fold up because we cannot buy diesel.
“So I think that Nigerians should bear with us. We are still working on the best way out.”
Okhiria assured Nigerians of efforts to ensure the safety of passengers as the Abuja-Kaduna train service resumes on December 5.
He said the government has deployed technology to ensure that the March 28 train attack does not reoccur in the country
The realities of the marketplace. The competition (road transporters – Chisco, GIGM, Dangote etc) didn’t need to think twice (nor would a private rail operator) before adjusting tarrifs. It is a given.
The NRC Act restricts the ability of the NRC to react to market pressures timeously and subjects strategic decisions to political considerations. In a competitive context, it would have lost business.
If there is one reason for reform, here it is.
In the matter of the MD’s explanations and rationalisations for increases in fares, what would rankle users especially of the Abuja-Kaduna service, was the hike in the farebox during the covid pandemic when sitting had to be spaced out. When sitting arrangements returned to normalcy, the fares didn’t return to “normal” despite complaints. So there is a likely credibility gap in terms of a trust deficit between users and the NRC. There is of course the issues of the unreliable manifest that was released after the March 28 incident and the historical experiences of travellers with ticket racketeering. The fact that no official is believed to have been prosecuted for such ignoble activity suggests possible high level complicity. So the NRC has a lot to do to win back trust.
Notwithstanding, users would welcome the return of the Abuja-Kaduna service in the hope that the security issues have been addressed.