The Federal Government, FG, has announced the commencement of the Abuja-Kaduna train services starting today, 5th December 2022.
This is coming 251 days after when the Federal Government announced the suspension of the Abuja-Kaduna train following the Boko Haram terrorist attack on a moving passenger train in Kaduna on March 28, 2022.
The insurgents had blown up the rail track and bombed the moving train, killing some and abducting more than 60 passengers. The unprecedented attack attracted international and national outrage.
Following the commencement of the Abuja-Kaduna train, our correspondent boarded the train from Idu to Kubwa stations in Abuja to monitor the resumption of the service.
At the junction leading to the Idu train Terminal, a few cars and motorcycles were seen at the park about 30 minutes before the take-off of the first train, indicating a low turnout of passengers.
Recall that Vanguard had reported the mixed reactions that trailed the first announcement of the resumption of Abuja-Kaduna train services, particularly from individuals and families who were victims or had relatives that were victims of the March 2022 train attack.
Vanguard writes that the low turnout of subscribers could be a result of the big scar that the attack left on many citizens, including making trust in the government wane.
Our correspondent who observed the area noticed low activities of businesses, unlike the Idu terminal that attracted massive small-scale businesses at every corner before the attack.
Also, our correspondent observed that the majority of the coaches were empty and the few with passengers had few passengers.
Speaking to one of the passengers on why there has been a low turnout, Usman Danladi, said: “were they expecting a crowd to come all of a sudden? There has been a problem and the government is yet to give a satisfactory answer to why there was an attack in the first place. Secondly, the government is yet to tell us feasible measures that have been taken to ensure that lives and properties are protected.
“You can’t just open the place and expect things to go as if nothing happens. This should be a big challenge to the government to get up and do the needful. Nigerians are losing trust in them. Even though they come out to shout that security measures have been taken, Nigerians will still take some time to observe. We are not fools.”
Also, a lady who appeared to have gotten her ticket and ready to go, Victoria Odeh, said: “Well, I was happy when I heard that the rain operation has started. I am always traveling to Lagos and the train has always favored me.
“For security, it is only God that keeps lives. I believe the government has done its best, it is just for them not to relapse. You don’t expect the terrorists to attack anytime soon. They are not foolish. The government should continue to be conscious and take its duties seriously.
“I will advise the government to motivate those that have been charged to secure the train by increasing their salaries so that they would not relent. They will do their job professionally and with their heart.”
One of the train officials who preferred anonymity, said: “things just got started. We should be patient enough. The government has played its part. I believe things will go as planned and Nigerians will be fine.”
State of Security
Our correspondent also observed that personnel of the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, were also seen at the entrance of the station indicating the presence of security.
Our correspondent also observed mounted cameras at various areas in the terminal, also inside the train.
Recently, Mu’azu said passengers on the route must register their phone numbers and National Identification Number (NIN) at the point of ticket purchase as part of ways to beef up security.
Mu’azu had also told Nigerians that other unnoticeable security measures have been taken. For example, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, said there would be a massive deployment of hi-tech security apparatus, to boost security.
He said the government was in the process of acquiring explosion sensors that would detect and eliminate threats on the track.
Increase in cost of fares
In confirmation of the hike in the ticket fare, the Abuja-Kaduna train service from Idu to Rigasa has been pegged at N9,000 for 24-seater coaches, N6,500 for 56 and 68-seater coaches, and N3,600 for 88-seater coaches while minors are expected to pay N3,000.
Before the attack, the Abuja-Kaduna train from Idu to Rigasa was pegged at N7,000 for 24-seater coaches, N5,000 for 56 and 68-seater coaches, and between N2,600 to N3,000 for 88-seater coaches depending on the time of the trip while minors paid N1,500.