Nigerian Railway Chief Faces Probe Over Abuja-Kaduna Service Failures
Nigerian Railway Chief Under Scrutiny for Abuja-Kaduna Train Service Woes
In an unexpected turn of events, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr. Fidet Okhiria, is on the verge of facing disciplinary repercussions amid allegations of mismanagement and operational discrepancies concerning the immensely popular Abuja-Kaduna train service.
Sources report that Mr. Okhiria, alongside his management team, is slated to appear before the Minister of Transportation, Saidu Alkali, to provide a comprehensive account of the railway’s activities. This significant encounter is scheduled to take place at the Bukar Dipcharima House in Abuja today.
The decision to hold Mr. Okhiria accountable comes in the wake of recent concerns surrounding the Abuja-Kaduna Train Service (AKTS). Minister Alkali, who recently embarked on an unannounced visit to the Abuja Train Station, was reportedly dissatisfied with the persistent train delays, safety issues, and overall dissatisfaction expressed by passengers. As a result, Minister Alkali demanded that Mr. Okhiria offer a detailed explanation for these shortcomings and provide satisfactory reasons to avoid potential disciplinary actions.
“The imperative behind this action is driven by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s agenda of Renewed Hope. The scheduled visit will prompt the necessary improvements, as the awareness of the impending inspection motivates corrective measures,” stated Minister Alkali during his inspection. He further emphasized, “Seeing is believing; my firsthand assessment revealed malfunctioning toilet facilities in the coaches. Security escorts also voiced concerns about unpaid allowances spanning several months. It’s gratifying that the NRC MD is set to address these issues before the ministry. Additionally, I’ve observed non-functioning lifts and escalators, causing inconveniences for the elderly and differently-abled passengers.”
Minister Alkali articulated that Mr. Okhiria’s appearance would be pivotal in determining whether or not disciplinary measures are warranted. “He will need to provide compelling reasons to justify avoiding such actions,” the minister emphasized.
The upcoming session is anticipated to delve into the NRC’s performance over the past decade, its financial status, and future prospects. The discussion will also encompass the status of NRC subsidiaries, particularly the Nigerian Railway Corporation Property Management Services Limited (NRCPMSL), an entity considered the largest property holding firm in Nigeria.
Expectations are high that Mr. Okhiria will also provide insight into the nation’s association with the ChinaExim Bank, which facilitated the loan enabling the procurement of the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge, a pivotal railway network. The completion of the Lot II segment from Lagos to Ibadan in 2021, under the Muhammadu Buhari administration, marked a significant milestone.
Minister Alkali expressed his resolve to rapidly rejuvenate the railway services. He committed to addressing the situation promptly, assuring the public that within the next 48 hours, the escalators would be repaired, and the lifts would be operational once again.