By Clifford Ndujihe
FOR the second time in less than six months, the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, yesterday, temporarily suspended operations along the Abuja-Kaduna route after it confirmed a terrorist attack on the route.
The first time the NRC suspended operations on the route for the same reason was in October 2021.
On Monday, a passenger train conveying no fewer than 970 passengers was attacked by terrorists between Rijana and in Katari in Kaduna after bombing the rail track. No fewer than seven passengers were reportedly killed as the terrorists shot at them.
The 186 kilometre Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge railway tracks from Idu, near Abuja, to Kaduna has nine stations and features both passenger and cargo trains.
The passenger trains on the line can be operated at a speed between 200km/h and 250km/h, reduces the travel time between Abuja and Kaduna to one hour and each passenger train can carry up to 5,000 commuters.
The cargo trains carrying 800 tons of goods take one and half hours to travel between the two cities.
People, who used to travel by road via Abuja-Kaduna expressway elected to use the rail when the Abuja-Kaduna expressway became notorious for kidnapping and banditry.
The 211-kilometre expressway is the link between the FCT and the North-western part of Nigeria, which makes the stretch a suitable spot for kidnappers because many travellers use the route. The Abuja-Kaduna route forms a critical part of Nigeria’s larger highway system, enabling the movement of people and products from the North to the South and vice versa.
With bandits’ attacks on roads and railway in Kaduna and the attempt on Kaduna Airport on Saturday, the three modes of transport in the state are facing terrorists’ threats.
The different modes of transport are air, water, and land transport, which includes rails or railways, road and off-road transport. Other modes also exist, including pipelines, cable transport, and space transport.
The modes available in Kaduna are air and land (road and rail) transport. If the bandits succeed in in their plans of halting road, rail and airport transport, people will be hemmed in with dire socio-economic consequences.
Government must prevent this from happening by taking decisive actions against the terrorists.
Three days ago, the Kaduna International airport was under siege, with bandits reportedly killing a staff member of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA. Although, the military authority dismissed various media reports that bandits shut the Kaduna International Airport during an attack on the facility, saying, “the incident happened six kilometres away from the terminal and outside the Airport perimeter fence” and 12 of the bandits were killed during the incident, there was indeed an attempt to attack to the airport.
To avert the danger of travelling on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway, many travellers resort to the railway service, which was before now considered the safest option.
Kaduna state appears to be a major insecurity hotspot currently, on account of recent happenings in the state, there are growing incidents of kidnappings and attacks across the entire country.
A recent report released by The Africa Report revealed that Kaduna State has 11,246 police officers, which are inadequate to tackle the state’s complex internal security challenges
On October 21, 2021, the NRC suspended rail service operations on the Abuja-Kaduna route following alleged detonation of explosives on the train track by bandits.
The overnight attack left passengers traumatised, with witnesses reporting that the attackers also fired live rounds into driver compartments.