By AbdulRaheem Aodu Kaduna
National Assembly members, top military offi cials, permanent secretaries, directors and other senior government offi cials, have abandoned road transportation on Abuja-Kaduna highway for the mass transit railway to avoid being kidnapping and armed robbery victims. Th e Abuja-Kaduna highway used to be one of the busiest highways in Nigeria, as it serves as gateway from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to the North-west through Kaduna. However, incessant kidnapping, armed robbery, including killing, maiming and raping of victims, among other criminal activities, have forced commuters plying the road to fi nd alternative in the rail transport.
Blueprint investigations revealed that this switchover has put lot of pressure on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line to the extent that the four coaches with capacity for 320 passengers (264 standard and 56, fi rst class) can no longer contain the passengers despite making two runs daily( Monday to Saturday), and one round trip on Sunday. Passengers have had to jostle for limited tickets available, settle for standard class despite being ready to pay for fi rst class, and even stand up all the way from Abuja to Kaduna in rare cases. During a visit to the Rigasa terminal in Kaduna, last Saturday, Blueprint sighted Senator Mohammed Bello, who was on the afternoon trip from Abuja to Kaduna, as well as a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abdussamad Dasuki, who had booked against Sunday on the trip to Abuja.
Some passengers, who spoke with our correspondent at the Kaduna terminal, said they would prefer to board the train rather than going by road, “because it is safer, more comfortable, cheaper and faster, while there are emergency medical services on board.” Mrs. Christy Ben, who works in Abuja, said every passenger would prefer to follow train between Abuja and Kaduna because of safety reason and its movement is scheduled. “Everybody now prefers to travel by rail. Train is safer with the spate of kidnapping, armed robbery and killings on AbujaKaduna road. Nobody wants to experience such terrible thing. Today (last Saturday), we travelled with some generals from Abuja to Kaduna. Everybody, even military offi cers, travel by rail because the road between Abuja and Kaduna is no longer safe.
Th ere was a report on the news of some women, even with their escorts, they were still kidnapped,” she said. Another traveller, Samuel Ache also advanced same reason as Christy. “I prefer to take train to Abuja instead of going to the park to take bus or taxi because I fi nd the train safer and more comfortable. “All the criminal activities; kidnapping, armed robbery, killing and raping of victims along Kaduna-Abuja highway, make the train better because of safety and security, and train is also faster and cheaper than road transportation,” he said. Similarly, Malam Adamu Sambo, said he has been following the standard gauge train for over six months and had no cause to regret his decision. Sambo said: “I have been travelling between Kaduna and Abuja by rail for over six months. And one major advantage railway has over road transportation is security and safety. “Rail transport is safer and more secured than road because issues of kidnapping and armed robbery which are rampant in road transportation along Kaduna -Abuja road, do not happen in rail transport and there is zero rate of accident on this rail.
I think more people will join rail transportation, especially, those travelling between Kaduna and Abuja.” Speaking with our reporter, Station Manager, Rigasa Terminal Station, Malam Lawal Mohammed, said, safety is their watchword as they attempt to satisfy Nigerians through eff ective service-delivery. “Our special service here is safety and security as well as satisfying our travellers. We guarantee each and every passenger’s safety on the railway and I think that is what has made them to patronise us. It shows that they love railway and this will make us want to serve them even better.”