27 December 2019
Criminals with suspected links to commercial drivers plying the Port Harcourt-Aba have deliberately removed some metals from the train track to sabotage train and avoid competition from the trains this yuletide.
Press sources say 30 persons were injured on Tuesday, as train traveling to Port Harcourt on high speed from Aba skied off the track as a result of the vandalized rail tracks.
Port Harcourt based sports journalist, Sopirinye Jaja who reported the incidence on his Twitter handle said : “There was no oil mill market on Wednesday because of the Christmas. The accident occurred on Tuesday. it was initially believed to have been rail thieves, but upon arriving at the scene, the train tracks were removed and kept out and not stolen to frustrate train.”
“Thank God no death.. Most low income business people now use train to Aba instead commercial bus. the tracks were not stolen, but removed to stop train.. Sabotage.”
Where they are functional, train services have become an option for travelers and businesses people, especially during the Christmas and new year celebrations when mini bus drivers overshoot fares, causing more hardship on low income earners.
NRC must protect its assets more robustly. Track must be subject to regular inspection as to its integrity.
A derailment is a serious accident and it is a surprise that this was kept out of mainstream media.
The track should be fenced in key places and used more frequently. This is how you deny vandals the opportunity. Deploy technology to catch the criminals as a deterrent. These things are not rocket science. Hopefully these incidents are not inside jobs or tantrums to attract more budgetary allocation.
Running a train a day is not a railway service. It is a railway exhibition (of a joke).
The ROW presents so many commercial opportunities that are going begging and untapped. For example, fibre optic cables can be run alongside the track for telecoms companies. NRC as a govt agency does not have the capacity or bandwidth to think like a private operator. It’s not in its DNA. Not with the feeding bottle from the FMF permanently stuck in its snout.
It is time we reform the NRC and restructure the railway environment. It all starts with passage of the Railway bill and the establishment of an independent regulator. We must also have the political will to implement the new laws once passed.
Railway is not just about awarding contracts and buying rolling stock. It’s about optimizing these assets and making them count.
Wake up Nigeria. The train has left the station. Enough of the foot dragging.