Railway: Passengers lament undue delays, technical hitches
By JONAH NWOKPOKU
Passengers of the Lagos-Kano intercity train service have lamented the constant delays and stoppages encountered during the course of journey, arising from technical hitches and faulty systems in the refurbished trains being used by Nigeria railways. This is contrary to claims by authorities of the NRC that it is undertaking a transformation of the nation’s rail line system.
The Lagos to Kano trip which is supposed to take thirty hours, culminated at thirty-nine hours as a result as the rail engine constantly broking down on the way and passengers have had to remain on board while it is changed. Passengers who have traveled on the rail recently decried the persistent technical challenges and said the hiccups have become a regular occurrence.
“This is what we have been seeing in train journeys. Last two weeks, a train derailed at Mokwa causing us to sleep at Jebba because we couldn’t pass while the derailed train was blocking the tracks.” Kolawale, a manufacturer who was traveling to Niger state, lamented when the train broke down at Agege, barely an hour after it departed Lagos.
Some first-time passengers also expressed disappointment with the situation and blamed the railway authority for poor maintenance. “This is my first and I blame myself for entering. Look at this railway people, they load people in thirteen coaches and then do not care about whether they are capable of getting them safely to their destinations. They didn’t conduct any checks on their engines, no checks at all and here we are.” Yau who was headed to Kano to visit his brother regretted.
The engine broke down at Agege, Ibadan, Offa and Kaduna and in each of these places; more than two hours were spent to fix the problem.
Tijani, a student at Federal University of Technology at Minna blamed the hitches on lack of maintenance and technical know-how on the part of the train’s technical crew.
“There is high level of lack of maintenance. If they can maintain this thing very well, it would solve a huge transportation problem for us but I think the problem is from the management and lack of technically qualified personnel. This one is not the Federal Government’s fault. All the delays and challenges we encountered are simply as a result of lack of technical know-how. They have no adequate knowledge about how this works. They need to upgrade their knowledge about it. How can a train leave Lagos by 12:00 pm yesterday and after twenty six hours, it is just getting to Minna.” He said.
Tijani who maintained that he was having his last experience on the train suggested that the only solution is for NRC to retrain their technical staff.
“This is my first time and I cannot come back again. I am highly disappointed. The best thing is for NRC to organize a seminar to upgrade the technical know-how of the technical crew, anything apart from that I don’t know how this thing will be sustained. This one is not the problem of federal government.” He added.
However, one of the members of the technical crew who preferred anonymity said the locomotive engines have become old and they expect to do better when new engines arrive. “These engines have tried. We are expecting new engines and when we get them, we shall have a better service.” He said.
The Nigeria Railway Corporation on the 21st of December, last year resumed intercity train service following government’s effort to rehabilitate the railway and reduce mass transportation difficulties but poor service delivery coupled with inadequate rolling stocks have been a huge challenge to this effort.
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