Following increasing criminal activities amidst massive presence of security agencies along Kaduna-Abuja highway, passengers, including ministers, federal and state lawmakers, top government offi cials, captains of industry, businessmen and top military brass, among others, appear to have found safer havens in the mass rail transit. ABDULRAHEEM AODU reports.
Kaduna as northern heartbeat Th e proximity of Kaduna, the political capital of Northern Nigeria, to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, (a two and half hours drive by road), has turned the Kaduna -Abuja highway to a thoroughfare for many who reside in one of the cities and do business in the other. For many Northern elites and even prominent Nigerians, nothing beats having a home in Kaduna, as the city hosts many political and business meetings, while also serving as the hub of Northern Nigeria, and in particular, the Northwest geopolitical zone.
Th us, these heavy traffi cs have made the Abuja-Kaduna highway one of the very busy trunk roads in Nigeria, as it also serves as gateway from the Federal Capital Territory to the Northwest region through Kaduna. Th e refurbishment of Abuja-Bwari-Jere road has even shortened the trip to two hours bypassing Suleja and Zuba.
Th e passage of the elites such as ministers, National Assembly members, state lawmakers, heads and offi cials of agencies and parastatals, top military offi cials, permanent secretaries, directors, captains of industries and other government functionaries along the Abuja-Kaduna on weekly and often daily basis, has become a must for those who are on national or state assignments and others who have business to carry out in the other city. Crimes amidst huge security presence However, the previously enjoyable trip has become a nightmare for many, as criminal activities, mainly kidnapping and armed robbery by nefarious elements, have turned many a proposed peaceful journey to torturous ordeals that many cannot recount without tears.
Th e incessant menace, including killing, maiming and raping of victims, among others, have forced commuters plying the road to fi nd alternative in the mass transit rail transport. Despite the short distance, many would rather fi nd alternative than allow their lives and that of Continued on the next page The coaches of the Kaduna-Abuja bound train on the platform The front view of the Rigasa station Passengers waiting for the train Features Following increasing criminal activities amidst massive presence of security agencies along Kaduna-Abuja highway, passengers, including ministers, federal and state lawmakers, top government offi cials, captains of industry, businessmen and top military brass, among others, appear to have found safer havens in the mass rail transit.
ABDULRAHEEM AODU reports. 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. their loved ones to be shortened by these hoodlums and their accomplices.
Following the inability of security agencies to fi nd enduring solutions to the spate of crimes along the AbujaKaduna highway, the elites have abandoned road transportation for the mass transit railway to avoid falling kidnap and armed robbery victims. Hardly can there be a trip by the mass transit train between Abuja and Kaduna without full complement of federal and state lawmakers, businessmen, top government offi cials and others as the found solace in the train system.
Blueprint investigations revealed that this switchover has put lot of pressure on the AbujaKaduna rail line with many passengers always struggling to book days ahead of their trip, such that the four passenger coaches, made up of one fi rst class executive coach (56 seats) and three standard coaches (88 seats each) with total capacity for 320 passengers can no longer contain the passengers.
Th is is in spite of the fact that the train makes two runs between Abuja and Kaduna every day, Monday to Saturday, leaving Abuja 7am and arriving Rigasa 9:40am, and returns to Abuja one hour later to arrive Idu, Abuja 1:20 pm. Th e train leaves Abuja after one hour rest precisely 2:20pm and arrives Rigasa, Kaduna 5pm before leaving back to Abuja by 6pm. On Sunday, the train runs only one round trip leaving Abuja 12:30, the train arrives Kaduna 3.00pm to depart Rigasa 4pm back to Abuja.
Passengers have had to jostle for available limited tickets, especially, the fi rst class seats, which most elites prefer since it has more room and is less congested. However, some have had to settle for standard class despite being ready to pay for fi rst class and there have even been reported cases of passengers standing up all the way from Kubwa to Kaduna. When Blueprint visited the Rigasa terminal last Saturday, Sen. Mohammed Bello was one of the passengers on the afternoon train from Abuja to Kaduna, while a member of House of Representatives, Hon. Abdussamad Dasuki, was scheduled to follow the Sunday train to Abuja.