The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said recommencing the Abuja-Kaduna train service while some of the passengers kidnapped by terrorists during the March 28 train attack will be insensitive to their families.
This was as it said measures are underway to employ advanced technology-based surveillance systems to forestall future terrorist attacks.
It said the options available also include the DSS-approved system deployed by the Kano State Government to frustrate terrorist activities in the vast Falgore forest.
The Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo, stated these while fielding questions from State House Correspondents shortly after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Executive Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The PUNCH reports that terrorists connected to the dreaded Boko Haram sect attacked a Kaduna-bound train on the night of Monday, March 28, 2022.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, after meeting with the President on April 1, had confirmed that local bandits operating in Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto, Niger and Kebbi states connived with Boko Haram terrorists to execute the attack which left at least eight passengers dead, several others injured; with at least 41 persons kidnapped.
Train services along the Abuja-Kaduna route have since halted, raising questions about the government’s plan to recommence the movement.
Responding to the queries on Wednesday, Sambo enumerated two factors which he said are at the heart of the Abuja-Kaduna train services.
They include families traumatized over their members still in captivity of terrorists and the need for proper surveillance along the tracks.
He said the government is considering the best options in terms of surveillance including a Public-Private Partnership.
Sambo said: “There are two core matters at the heart of the resumption of the Abuja-Kaduna rail services. And these core issues are one, families are traumatised over their loved ones that are still in captivity.
“Two, we need to have a surveillance and monitoring system on the rail track that would ensure that such incidents never happen again.
“For goodness’s sake, wouldn’t it be insensitive of us to resume these services even if security surveillance was in place? As long as some citizens of this country spend days and nights weeping over their loved ones that are held in the bush?”
Asked about definite timelines to execute the initiative, Muazu said: “If I give a timeline, I’ll be lying to you.”
Explaining the options on the FG’s table, the cabinet member said “There is a solution that the Kano State government has employed for the Falgore Forest, sanctioned by the DSS.
“We are also mindful of costs. Now if for example, you’re going to spend between three and nine billion naira just to provide surveillance or monitoring systems along the Abuja-Kaduna rail line alone, how much is the government going to spend for the entire country?
“So we are also looking at PPP options. For example, there are notable companies that have solved this problem outside this jurisdiction. We give them the right of way, the infrastructure and the personnel. And then we pay as you go, which is a more attractive option for me. Maybe in another one month, we should be back to you with a solution.”
The minister also revealed that FEC approved a contract for the Nigerian Railway Corporation worth about N1.49bn for the repair of a crane.
“Today I had the privilege of presenting before Council a memorandum from the Ministry of Transportation on behalf of one of its agencies, namely, the Nigerian railway corporation. The memo sought Council’s approval to purchase spare pads and undertake the repairs and overhaul of one of its critical cranes, namely KRC 800 No. 170206, which had previously been advertised in the newspapers and the Federal Tenders Journal.
“Council considered the memorandum that this crane is required by the Corporation for emergency repairs of the corporation’s rolling stock. It has broken down and therefore needs to be fixed.
“It has to go through all the due process of tender award, after which Council considered and approved that the contract be awarded to Messrs Vipan Global Investment Resources Limited who are in partnership with the original equipment manufacturers in Germany, in the total sum of N1,491,065,722.72 inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT with a completion period of 12 months,” Sambo said.
On his part, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, said the council approved a total of N718,193,250 to two security outfits to provide security to the entire 72.4km of trail track and 20 stations on the Abuja light rail mass transit system.
He said “I presented a memo and the council approved a contract to two companies for the provision of security services for the Abuja light rail mass transit system. The companies are Mssrs Al-Ahli Security Guards Limited and Mssrs Seaguard Security and Protective Company Limited.
“They are going to provide security to the entire 45 kilometers of track including 12 stations. And these security services are meant to protect the key infrastructure on the rail tracks, the signalling and communication equipment as well as the electrical system.
“Al-Ahli Security Guards Limited is going to secure 27.4km of the track, covering eight stations at the cost of N407,214,000 over a two-year period, while SeaGuard Security and Protective Company Limited is going to secure 18km of the rail tracks including four railway stations and that is at a cost of N310,979,250.”