The Federal Government has said that passengers on the Abuja-Kaduna train route must register their phone numbers and National Identification Number (NIN) at the point of ticket purchase, ahead of planned resumption.
Identity verification devices will be deployed at each train station on the route for the verification of passengers’ identities, according to the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC). The commission warned Nigerians not to use their NIN to purchase ticket for unknown persons as it could lead to criminal prosecution.
Train services along the route had been suspended by the FG after Boko Haram terrorists attacked a moving passenger train in Kaduna on March 28, 2022, killing some and abducting over 60 passengers.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo on November 7, 2022 announced that train services on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line will resume this November.
However, the Minister on Sunday said that train operations will resume in the next seven days.
“The issue of whether the train will start tomorrow or not, we have not said the train services will start tomorrow. I want to be very categorical about that,” he said.
“Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket.
“Your purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a national identification number in order to profile, because that is the beginning of the security checks.
“So, at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another, we know who and who is on board.
“If you don’t have a national identification number (NIN) you are not going to board our train. It is as simple as that.
“If you are a minor, an adult will pay for you and will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.”
Sambo added that the public needed to be kept abreast of the new developments before operations begin.
“Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these and assimilate this new system because if we start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled,” he said.
“Definitely between three, four, five days, certainly not more than a week.”
“Security starts from ticketing. So now, you don’t buy a ticket unless you have a valid phone number and you have a NIN,” Sambo said.
“And if you are a foreigner, you also have a means of identification you can use which is produced by the National Identity Management Commission.
“Having secured your ticket, you will not get access to the lounge until the machine reads the barcode in your receipt.
“Your details will show and your complete profile will show on the screen. Only then will you be allowed to go into the lounge. This is what we call customer profiling.”
“The other thing is that, for every journey, the train is monitored every second and the train driver can see up to a certain distance,” he said.
“If there are any threats on the track, that would enable him to march the break before getting to the perceived threat.”
“But we will certainly not travel at night,” he added.
He also said some other sensitive equipment that would not be disclosed had been put in place to ensure the safety of life and property.
On transport charges, he said discussions were in place as fares could be increased.
“My assurance to Nigerians is that even I will be using the train, and other of my counterparts who have homes in Kaduna,” Sambo added.
“In fact, from next week they will start using this train so I am giving Nigerians full assurance that a human being can give that this train is safe for them to use.
“There is absolutely nothing to fear. We have learned from what has happened and life is about learning lessons and adopting measures with the lessons.
“As a responsible government, we have seen those lessons and devised appropriate measures to counter it.
“Like I always say that I was not going to allow this train to resume until everybody in captivity was released and to the glory of God I have achieved that.”
The terrorist released the last set of hostages on October 5.
A terrorist negotiator, Tukur Mamu, was on September 6, 2022, arrested in Cairo, Egypt while on his way to Saudi Arabia and returned to Nigeria the next day.
Ifunanya Ikueze is an Engineer, Safety Professional, Writer, Investor, Entrepreneur and Educator.