The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) earmarks ₦600 million for constructing police stations along its standard gauge corridors.
This initiative emerges in response to the alarming insecurity challenges that have been impeding the corporation’s operations and financial performance. Also, the corporation seeks another N600 million to purchase rail inspection vehicles.
The 2024 budget proposal for Government-Owned Entities (GOEs), shows that the NRC plans to secure rail lines in the country with about 10% of its ₦11.8 billion total budget.
Insecurity has been a long-standing adversary against the profitability of railway services in Nigeria. A poignant example is the infamous Kaduna train kidnapping in Q1 2022, which had a domino effect on passenger numbers and revenue in the subsequent quarter. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), there was a sharp drop in train passengers from 953,099 in Q1 to 422,393 in Q2 2022, leading to a substantial dip in revenue from ₦2.08 billion to ₦598.74 million.
This decline underscores a growing public preference for alternative transportation modes, driven by escalating security concerns. Despite the eventual release of the kidnapped victims, the shadow of insecurity continues to loom over the rail transport sector.
Recognizing the criticality of this issue, Nigeria’s former Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, in August 2022, discussed exploring public-private partnerships to fortify security along key routes like Abuja to Kaduna. He estimated the cost of installing necessary security equipment at ₦9 billion.
Simultaneously, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved ₦718 million for securing the 45-kilometre rail track and 20 stations nationwide.
Fidet Okhiria, the Managing Director of NRC, recently disclosed plans to initiate six train trips on all standard gauge rail lines by 2024. However, he acknowledged the current limitations posed by insecurity, particularly affecting night operations. Okhiria also highlighted the issue of vandalism.
The NRC’s plan to secure rail lines will likely restore public confidence in train travel and rekindle railway revenue in Nigeria.
Source: Aspheric News