Some passengers who spoke to our reporter at the Rigasa terminal in Kaduna, said they would prefer to board the train rather than follow road transportation because it is safer, more comfortable, cheaper, run on schedule and faster, while there is emergency medical services on board. Safety and security According to Mrs Christy Ben, who works in Abuja, every passenger would prefer to follow train between Abuja and Kaduna because of safety and timeliness, saying everybody now prefers to travel by rail.
“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 travelling along that highway, and kidnapped even with their escorts.” Samuel Ache, who lives in Kaduna also prefers to go by train when travelling the route because of the safety.
“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.” Malam Adamu Sambo has been following the standard gauge train for over six months and he is sold on it because of the security provided by the railway system.
“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 issue of kidnapping and armed robbery which is rampant in road transportation along Kaduna -Abuja road does not happen in rail transport and there is zero rate of accident on this rail. I think many more people will join rail transportation especially those travelling between Kaduna and Abuja.”
For Station Manager, Rigasa Terminal Station of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Malam Lawal Mohammed 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 travelers. We guaranteed each and every passenger’s safety on the railway and I think that is what has made them to patronize us. It shows that they love railway and this will make us want to serve them even better.” Congestion and need for more coaches Th e sudden crave and craze for rail transportation is certainly not without its challenges, as the available space is always overbooked with all the coaches fi lled up, and consequently leaving many passengers stranded.
Th e rule of decency and discipline does not obtain, as the rush for tickets now makes it the survival of the fi ttest and the fastest. For instance, a passenger travelling to Abuja with his son, could only get one fi rst class seat and had to be separated from his son for the journey. Th e station manager recalls instances when passengers had to be turned back. “Most of the times the train is fi lled up going and coming. We are getting passengers at times more than the capacity, so we hope God will help us to get more coaches and may be locomotives because we are ready to work and the passengers are there. Th ey are happy with our services.
“I’m not happy when we have to send passengers back. I think if there is anything federal government can do, they should help to ensure that we transport all our passengers. Th e fi rst class seats 56 passengers, at times we have 300 people looking for the fi rst class seats. Last Saturday, many of those people who cannot get seats said they would pay and stand all the way to Rigasa but we rejected that because it’s not part of our regulation for passengers to stand and they were not happy with that.”
On over congestion, Sambo said, “the services is good but the only area they have issue is that they tend to congest the passengers. Sometimes, you see people stand from Abuja to Kaduna, and the engine is deteriorating and the maintenance maybe inadequate. Th e coaches are okay, comfortable and air conditioned”. Need for more coaches Another passenger, Lydia Adamu is satisfi ed with the services.
“Th e services are okay, comfortable and they respect people, their approach is okay and the journey is wonderful. Th e rate is somewhat high for some of us.” According to Ache, their services are quite eff ective but they would need more coaches to satisfy the infl ux of passengers “Th e staff are competent, they keep to schedule, they don’t waste a minute.
Th eir on board services, the snacks even the emergency medical response make it world class and attractive to many passengers. But there is need for more coaches to avoid congestion.” Sharing similar view, Mrs. Ben relived her experience thus; “I came to Kaduna this morning from Kubwa, and we stood throughout to Kaduna. Every coach was fi lled up. Imagine a woman with children standing.
Since everybody now prefers to travel by rail, Federal Government should make it a hourly schedule with two trains, that would decongest the train. I learnt last Wednesday, one man with neck protection had to stand from Kubwa to Kaduna, one passenger seated had to help him by alternating with him.” Blueprint witnessed the emergency medical services when a female teenager took ill few minutes to departure for an onward journey to Abuja, and the medical personnel quickly provided her with fi rst aid medicare. She was to later disembark with her other relations for full medical treatment.