Minister of information says Nigerians can travel safely by rail, Bandits say otherwise
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Lai Mohammed, minister of information, says the federal government has done well on ensuring safety via rail transport and has performed excellently in the provision of infrastructure. He said this on Monday at a media briefing in Abuja.
He said, “We are proud that in our time, Nigerians are once again able to travel by rail, this time in total comfort and safety,” he said.
“Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna, Warri-Itakpe-Ajaokuta and Abuja Metroline are shining examples of our rail revolution. And we are just getting started. We have the rehabilitation of the Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway project that cuts through Rivers, Imo, Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Gombe, Yobe, Adamawa and Borno states, and the Bonny Deep Sea and Railway Industrial Park.
“We have the Kano-Maradi standard gauge line that passes through some economic hubs of the country, including Kazaure, Daura, Katsina and up to the border town of Jibiya and the city of Maradi in Niger Republic.”
Lai’s comment comes amid attacks by lack of maintenance and by gunmen in parts of the country, Earlier in March, a Lagos-Ibadan train stopped mid-way after reportedly running out of diesel. Speaking further at the media briefing, the minister said the country is becoming safer with the successes being recorded in the fight against insurgency and banditry. Interestingly, a few hours later, reports filtered in of an attack on a passenger train with over 970 passengers by suspected terrorists between Rijana and Katari in Kaduna State. Recall that there was an attack on a Kaduna-Abuja train in October 2021 as well.
A passenger onboard the train, Anas Iro Dan Musa, sent messages out to his followers on Facebook, saying all passengers were lying on the floor as the terrorists were shooting at the train sporadically. It was learnt that an Abuja-Kaduna-bound filled with passengers derailed after the improvised explosive device planted by the terrorists went off. The terrorists, subsequently, attacked the train with many passengers reportedly injured. It’s not yet clear if any of the 970 passengers on board were abducted by the attackers. Newsmen gathered that security operatives have been deployed to the scene of the attack.
Confirming the incident, the Managing Director of Nigerian Railways Corporation, NRC, Fidet Okhiria, said: “We cannot give you much information now. Most of the passengers have gone into hiding and they cannot be giving information, but there are reports of gunshots as the train stopped.”
This is coming a few days after the terrorists attacked the Kaduna International Airport where an aircraft was prevented from taking off.