16 August 2019
Nigerian Railway Corporation(NRC), the state owned railway business where demand for its products far outstrips supply yet has managed to trade at a substantial loss for over 50 years due to incompetence, poor planning and mismanagement.
It now effectively costs more to travel from Abuja to Kaduna by rail than by road. It also takes about twice as long door to door if you manage to go that is. Rail is however statistically more secure than road.
The surge in demand for rail travel on the Abuja-Kaduna route has been occasioned by the closure of Abuja airport for several months for runway rehab in 2017 and increased kidnapping/banditry incidents on the highway in 2018/9.
NRC has sadly not been able to leverage the business opportunity and it’s service continues to be unresponsive to customer needs amid rapidly deteriorating quality.
It is increasingly epileptic characterised by regular breakdowns, train cancellations, overcrowding, non-functioning amenities, no real time travel information, manual ticketing systems and non communicative travel management among others.
For a service that was commissioned barely three years ago, that speaks volumes.
What would be the state of affairs after five years when the free maintenance period ends and the Chinese leave?
Perhaps they will switch our attention to the toast of that moment which would be the new Lagos-Ibadan SGR while Abuja-Kaduna would inevitably be left to fail just like the legacy narrow gauge network which has effectively collapsed after billions were expended in rehabilitation and new equipment over the last 10 years.
NRC is not working. Has never worked. We need a new approach