OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives on Tuesday resolved to carry out a status inquiry of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) and its inadequacies.
The resolution followed a motion of urgent public importance entitled: ‘Need to investigate the Ibadan-Lagos Train Fuel Saga’ raised at plenary by Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta).
Raising the motion, Elumelu cited that in recent times, there have been a series of media reports showing passenger trains break down in the middle of nowhere for lack of maintenance. The development he noted subjects commuters to possible attacks by hoodlums and armed robbers who can brutalise, maim and cart away hard-earned monies and goods of innocent Nigerians.
Elumelu further pointed out that another sad episode happened on Thursday the 11th day of March 2022, where a train conveying passengers and goods from Lagos to Ibadan came to a halt midway. The incidence is said to have been occasioned by insufficient fuel, thus endangering the lives of innocent Nigerian travellers on the trip.
He expressed concern that another issue with the operational incompetence of the NRC is the issue of ticket racketeering and hoarding to the public; thereby undermining government revenue, inhibits target loan repayment, and constitutes economic sabotage
According to him, this episode exposes the carelessness, irresponsibility, and incompetence of the NRC management in effectively and efficiently managing the sector.
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The lawmaker explained that “for a train to leave the station with insufficient fuel only to get stuck midway into the journey with traumatised and stranded passengers, is a huge national embarrassment which not only makes our nation a laughing stock in the eyes of the international community but a complete system failure.
The excuse by Fidelis Okhiria , Managing Director of NRC is not just laughable but points to the inability of the management to effectively conduct routine standard operational checks thereby raising serious issues about the safety and reliability of our rail services which must be seriously investigated,” he said.
He worried that if these irresponsible and careless act by the NRC is not effectively tackled and nipped at the bud, it may one day lead to a major disaster where innocent Nigerians will end up losing their lives, hence the need for this motion.
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To this end, the House adopted the motion when Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila called for a voice vote after debates from members who mostly supported the motion.
It also mandated its committee on Transport to carry out the status inquiry of the NRC and report back to the house within four weeks.
What to Note:
The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) under the supervision of the Ministry of Transportation came into existence 112yrs ago for the purposes of easy and cheap movement of bulk goods and commuters.
This movement was mainly from hinterlands to seaports and vice versa. Its first rail business activityy was commenced with the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line.