The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has raised the alarm over incessant stealing of rail tracks across the country.

Infinity Tyres

The corporation disclosed that over 100, 000 rail tracks were vandalised in Lagos and Abuja last year. The organization also lost over 150,000 railway components to thieves.

The Managing Director of NRC, Fidet Okhira who made the disclosure admitted the challenge posed to the agency by vandalism and other untoward activities by criminal elements.

According to him, about 50,000 rail tracks were vandalised in Lagos and over 50,000 vandalised in Abuja. Okhira revealed that before the Christmas festivities, not less than 200 clips earlier vandalized by hoodlums were replaced but were destroyed three days later.

“The major issue we have now is vandalism of the tracks, which is a big problem. When we replace the tracks, they will come back to vandalise the track again”, Okhira lamented. He identified the portions of the tracks between Mushin and Oshodi as the most affected in the vandalisation.

The recurring stealing vital parts of the rail facilities in the country is a new trend in criminality that can endanger the safety of those who patronize the railways. It is sad that many rail lines have been reportedly tampered with by the criminal elements in recent times. Apart from the Lagos and Abuja rail lines, tracks laid on a section of the Itakpe-Warri rail line have also been vandalised by the criminals. The vandals had used saw-like objects to cut the rail line in pieces, removing the bolts and knots to cart away the iron rails.

We decry the increasing stealing of rail tracts across the country and urge the federal government to map out measures to adequately protect the rail tracts.

Railway has become a major means of transportation in Nigeria and has immensely contributed to the economic development of the country.

Therefore, any impediment to the smooth operation of the railway system must be resisted. The railway system is a cheaper means of transportation of people and goods. Any attempt by hoodlums to disrupt the provision of this important transport system must be averted. That is why the government should use technology to protect the rail tracts across the country.

It is good that the federal government is rehabilitating the rail lines to lessen the pressure on road transportation. As the biggest country in Africa, there is need to develop other modes of transportation, especially railways and waterways.

For long, we have depended so much on road and air transportation, but more on roads. The development of railways has created additional jobs and created business opportunities along the towns the rail passed. However, we need more rail lines to link up with other states and parts of the country. Having a railway from Lagos to the Eastern states will lessen the pressure on the Lagos/Benin/Asaba expressway.

No efforts should be spared in securing the rail tracks. Vandalism comes with huge costs. Nigeria has invested so much in rehabilitating the rail lines. The government has used foreign loans to rehabilitate the rail lines. It therefore behooves on the government to protect the rail lines. As at March 31, 2020, the total borrowing from China to rehabilitate the the rail lines stood at $3.121 billion.

These loan covered Nigerian Railway Modernization Project (Idu-Kaduna section), Abuja Light Rail Project, Nigerian Four Airport Terminals Expansion Project (Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt), Nigerian Railway Modernization Project (Lagos-Ibadan section) and Rehabilitation and Upgrading of Abuja – Keffi-Makurdi Road Project, among others.

Apart from damaging the rail lines, vandalisation of rail tracts can cause derailment with dire consequences. Replacing the stolen rail tracts will cost the government additional revenue that should have been used for other projects.

The security agencies should protect the rail tracts. The government should install Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras along the rail lines. The police should arrest those involved in the heinous criminality and diligently prosecute them. There must be stiffer penalties for those that vandalise rail tracts. The stealing of rail tracts has been on the increase because those caught had not been adequately sanctioned.

There is need to sensitise the people on the need to protect rail tracts and other government’s facilities.
…The Sun Newspaper Editorial