As part of measures to guarantee the safety of passengers along the Abuja – Kaduna rail corridor, the federal government has indicated plans to digitalise security on the critical route.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who made the disclosure during an unscheduled assessment tour of the train service, also announced that services on the Abuja/Kaduna rail line will resume on Saturday.
TheFact Nigeria reports that the tour was to ascertain the level of damage to the rail tracks, after explosive attacks by suspected bandits.
The minister said: “We want to assure the public that beyond the physical presence of Police and the Military along this track, we will get a rail bus for patrol regularly so that we can see what is happening even before the train takes off, and it will be end to end. Apart from this, there has not been any security challenges on this track.
“What this has done to us is that we would fasten the procurement process of the digital security system that we planned to put in place. It has gone to the Cabinet two weeks ago and it has returned. So, we’ll re-present it to Cabinet to ensure that we get approval for the installation.
“The essence of the digital security system is to enable us to know when there’s an impact on the rail to forestall this kind of attack. We will get the Police involved so that they will be here before the installation of the digital facility.”
While expressing regret over the incident, the former Rivers State Governor said that he was comforted by the capacity demonstrated by Nigerian engineers in effecting repairs on the route.
His words: “I am not happy that the security breach took place but what it has done is to show that we actually have the capacity to fix our rail.
“The essence of this is to make sure that by the time the Chinese leave, we should start the gradual process of constructing our own railway.
“The repair was done by our own Nigerian Engineers in record time and by tomorrow (Saturday) we will run the first train.”
The NRC Managing Director, Fidet Okhiria disclosed that the number of trips on the corridor would be increased in order to boost security.
“It’s better to run more trains as running more trains would not give people the opportunity to tamper/interfere with the tracks, because a train passed from Abuja to Kaduna in not up to 30 minutes when the explosions were executed and planted.
“If we have all the trains on the track, the people would have to work very hard to be able to plant explosives. So tomorrow, we are running four trips so that we can run from Abuja to Kaduna and balance the train set while we are working on the locomotive that was affected, after fixing the locomotive, we would run our usual ten trips”, he said.
On the issue of network jamming/communication on the axis Okhiria said the situation necessitated pilot working.
“The train that the Maintenance staff brought to site occupy the site and whether you call them or not you have to see the train back to the station physically and we have a pilot man that would tell us that there is nothing on the track again. He would be the person leading the driver.
“Before now, we would have had what we call detonators that would blast 3 times. It would at the first instance blast 3 times, that is the driver would give you how many meters remaining, but sometimes in order to save the detonator, you pilot them. That would see you to the point of accident.
“In railway there is what we call safety first. Whether we have communication or not, although there is no communication actually, like this is a dark spot you know there is no communication in kaduna area again. We would try and introduce what we had in warri itakpe, the satellite telephone so that we can communicate”, said the NRC Managing Director.