The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, says Federal Government may increase the transport fares of the rail services on the Abuja-Kaduna route following the inauguration of 10 new luxurious coaches.
Ameachi announced this when he fielded questions from State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.
According to him, already, commuters have agreed that the cost of transportation to Kaduna via the rail service is a bit too cheap.
The Minister, who said he discussed the inauguration of the 10 new coaches and two locomotives with the President, revealed that the new coaches would be inaugurated on Thursday.
“The president is pleased with the arrangement because basically we will then be able to discharge the passengers pressure that we have had; that is why you have ticket racketeering.
“When demand outstrips supply then you see all sorts of attempts to cheat the passengers.
“There are two things I know the president likes. I have mentioned one, the second one, is after commissioning even the passengers agree that the cost of transportation to Kaduna via the railway is a bit too cheap.
“So there will be a need to increase the price and then there will be more comfort.
“More comfort in the sense that when you have excess seats multiplied by the number of passengers that will come, then anybody that wants to racketeer will have to eat the tickets himself,’’ he added.
He stated that the new coaches, when inaugurated, would bring the total number of coaches to 14 on the Kaduna-Abuja route.
According to the minister, one of the locomotives will be dedicated to direct trip from Kaduna to Abuja non-stop (that should be doing 1hr:15 or 1hr:20 minutes non-stop).
He said this would enable those “living in Kaduna and working in Abuja to actually come to work on time. If you leave at 6.00a.m by 7:15a.m, 7:20a.m you should be in Abuja.’’
On the reported killing of 21 residents of Rivers on the eve of New Year, Amaechi stressed the need for the state government to take security of life and property of its citizens more seriously.
He said: “I think the governor needs to get a bit more serious, he should stop encouraging the militant groups in the name of politics and election.
“You heard about 21 only in Omoku, what about in Akutoru where two persons were killed, what about other local government areas.
“I think there should be much more than age to qualify to be a governor because it takes much more than age.
“I was governor of Rivers State, I did not play PDP/APC politics; life is life, it has no symbol. Nobody has APC life or PDP life.
“The first responsibility of a governor, which is what the oath of office requires, is that you swear to protect lives and property.
“When you don’t protect life and property, what do you do? – is impeachment. Unfortunately there is no House of Assembly in Rivers State.’’
The minister, who stated that he had earlier sworn not to be talking about Rivers anymore, said “but you don’t keep quiet in the face of 21 lives, you can’t just keep quiet.
“I have said it that nobody should criticise my successor, let him do his beat. But a successor that watches the lives of people go like that and does not care? God will bless him”.