The report on how bandits attacked the train on transit from Abuja to Kaduna on Wednesday and Thursday last week has further buttressed the audacity and cruelty of these criminals.
The Kaduna-Abuja road has become dangerous and a nightmare to motorists and passengers compelling them to look for an alternative safe route. Many travellers have been forced to patronise train transport believing it is safe. With the exception of hitches experienced sometimes which lead the train to stop halfway into its journey, there has never been report of bandits’ attack since the train service was launched. With the unfortunate attack and destruction of rail track by bandits, it has shown that the train service which is being patronised by the ordinary people is not longer safe.
Are there other alternatives for the travellers who follow the busiest road to the nation’s capital? Some people may suggest air transport. However, the question remains: how many people can afford flight tickets? Your guess is as good as mine; only the big men or the well to do individuals in the country. Few hours after the report of the attack, the Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) denied that the train was not actually attacked by bandits. He blamed vandals for the destruction of the rail track. Surprisingly, the managing director backtracked his statement and admitted the attack.
By attacking and interrupting the train service for two days, there is clear indication that the activities of these bandits or whatever name you give them are taking dangerous dimension. Before, it was road, now the bandits have turned to train. Unless government moves swiftly and declare a total war against these criminals, one day even the air transportation which remains the last option will be hijacked by them. Since they began their campaign of terror, these bandits have succeeded in destroying or cutting off farming, market and business activities in many states of the country, especially the North-west states where kidnapping and killing of ordinary people have become the order of the day.
The disconnection of telecommunication networks in Zamfara, Katsina and some parts of Kaduna state which paved the way for massive onslaught against the bandits and eventually rooted their nefarious activities has failed to provide the lasting solution to the problem of banditry in the country. The fleeing bandits who escaped the superior fire force of our military and other security officers have continued to sack and kill many villagers. The recent killing of over 50 marketers in Goronyo market, Sokoto state, has proved that the war against banditry is not yet over.
There is no doubt, government is doing its best to tackle the issues of banditry and other security challenges in the country. However, it seems there is poor intelligence gathering in the country. With good intelligence network, the attack on train last week would have been averted and the perpetrators easily identified and nabbed. Government should also leverage on technology to address the myriad security challenges bedeviling the country. Government should use or deploy satilite and drones to monitor the movement of our train and other dangerous spots harbouring criminals.
The bandits or whoever that attacked the train last week may come back and re-launch its attack, hence the need for the train to be fully monitored. With Nigerians embracing and enjoying the train service and government generating revenue, there is the need to safeguard it through adopting pro-active security measures.
Ibrahim Mustapha,Pambegua, Kaduna state08169056963