- Plans unbundling of Nigerian Railways
By Ray Ugochukwu
The Minister of Transportation, Engr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, on Thursday in Lagos, assured that very soon the Abuja-Kaduna passengers kidnapped by bandits on March 28, 2022, would regain their freedom.
Sambo, who spoke at an interactive session with journalists on the sidelines of the World Maritime Day (WMD) celebration at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, regretted that it had taken that long for the victims to remain in captivity of the bandits.
The minister recalled that on his resumption day in office as the ministry’s helmsman, the relatives of the victims blocked him for his attention and he made a pledge that he would ensure the release of their loved ones.
“I recall that on my way to resumption in office, the families of the kidnapped victims blocked me and I made a pledge that with the grace of God their relations will be released to them. The experience is quite traumatic. It is traumatic to be in that kind of situation for this long.
“It is my hope that very very soon, by the special grace of God, they will be released. Every day, I remember them in my prayers and I believe soon they will reunite with their families”, the minister said.
According to him, serious efforts, which he could not elaborate on, were on to ensure that the victims of the unfortunate incident got reunited with their families.
Engr. Sambo however, debunked recent media reports that the Federal Government was losing over N30 billion as monthly revenue due the stoppage of train services on the Abuja-Kaduna route following the March 28 incident.
He said that was a fabrication of the authors of such reports and assured that soon the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) would make public its revenue figures for people to know the truth.
For the rail system, he said his administration was working towards the unbundling of the NRC to make it more functional.
Damaged Kaduna-Abuja bound train
He frowned at a situation where an organization would act as owner, regulator as well as operator, adding that plans were already on ground to unbundle the corporation before he even came on board as minister.
“I want to see the Nigerian Railway Corporation that was abandoned revived. Before I came, plans were on to unbundle the agency. You can’t have an agency that is owner, regulator and operator at the same time. Sometimes you can run it competitively.
“Government has invested a lot of money in fixing the rails, both standard and no-standard gauges. We can give out some of the lines to private operators to run and let the system be very competitive. This is my vision for the NRC. I pray that my team joins me in running this vision”, Sambo said.