Denies further hike in train tickets
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the new Maritime Security Infrastructure will be launched before June. The minister, who spoke on a national television broadcast yesterday, decried the insecurity challenges in the maritime sector, and promised that with the new security infrastructure, the problem would be solved.
“Between now and June, we should be launching. We have assured Nigerians that we will secure our waterways. Those who make money from the maritime security challenges are already battling us. We are ready for the battle, and the president (Muhammadu Buhari) is behind us.
“Those who provide security for foreigners to get to the platforms will be out of business by the time the water is within the purview of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and they can see from the beginning to the end of our waters. What will be the essence of those contracts when you have the navy in the water, the army and the air force in the air?” Amaechi said.
Besides, Amaechi said the government would not further increase fares on the Abuja-Kaduna rail route, to accommodate the poor.He affirmed the reality of calls to increase the tickets for the railway to make enough profit to pay back the loans incurred in its construction and become sustainable.
But according to him, railways don’t make profits (from passengers’ tickets) across the world because they are usually subsidised. “If we increase the tickets, what about the poor man that wants to move from Abuja to Kaduna?
“So, usually, all over the world, you subsidise railway, so that the poor can have an easy means of transportation and you improve your economy. Don’t forget, the railway is built not for passenger transportation; it is built as a means to grow the economy of the country.
“The economy will pay for it. Take the number of businesses that you grow across that line, take the numbers of companies you’ve established, and consider the taxes they pay to you,” he said.
Meanwhile, to solve the problem of ticket racketeering on the Abuja-Kaduna rail route, the minister said the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) is set to roll out new locomotives and coaches.He explained that the number of coaches and locomotives earlier deployed to the route was for 300 passengers daily.
“Traffic count as at the time we deployed those coaches was 300. So, every day you move 300 passengers,” he said. “And suddenly there is a spike. You have 3,700 passengers per day with the same number of locomotives and coaches for 300 people, so what do you do?
“Don’t forget that the coaches and locomotives are not things you just go to the shop and buy; you have to manufacture, you have to fabricate. It took us nearly two years to fabricate the new coaches and locomotives that are just arriving now.’