Amaechi flanked by NRC Board Chairman Engr. Al Hassan responding to question during an on the spot assessment at the Kaduna Bomb blast site yesterday
By Ignatius Ushie
The Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has blamed the bureaucratic bottleneck associated with the procurement of “Digital Security Architecture” to secure the rail lines as responsible for the bomb blast on Abuja-Kaduna rail corridor.
The Minister who was accompanied by the Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki and the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi made this known yesterday on inspection of the blast site located between Rijana and Dutse section, about Km 137 from Abuja.
“We have not been able to install the security sensors because the procurement process is a bit difficult. It is typical of Nigerians, shortening the approval process could have saved lives like these,” he said.
Explaining the workability of the security apparatus, Amaechi said the drones alone can inform the system when there are people around the rail tracks, as the equipment picks up sensors when the tracks are bridged, thereby making it possible to respond to danger”.
Still voicing his frustration, the Minister said: “Even if they get us approval, it will take some months to acquire them from overseas, to install them. We need to do that to enable us see from Kaduna-Abuja, Itakpe-Warri and from Lagos-Ibadan, what is going on so that we don’t continue to lose lives because lives are important. If we dont do that, more persons will die. The cost was about N3 billion and the damage here is more than N3 billion. So, if we had gotten the approval, we would have saved lives.”
Decrying the public opinion as regards cost of the equipment, the Minister said “you cannot equate it with the eight lives that were lost. The equipment were just N3billion and it is the nouveau across the world”.
“What kind of due process is that? When I say due process, it does not necessarily mean BPP but whatever agency it is; they need to get us approval so that we can get it out of cabinet”. Amaechi said.
On the measures to be deployed pending grant of approval, the Minister disclosed that the idea of employing natives to bridge security gaps in the remote areas is being considered.
Regarding the number of persons on board the train and others, Amaechi said the total number of passengers on the train was 398 less staff of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, cleaning staff; all of whom were not on the manifest. He added that the number of missing, kidnapped and injured persons have been ascertained.
On the patrol vehicles recently donated to the Railway corporation, Amaechi said they are available but cannot reach everywhere as some of the terrain are inaccessible, adding that attacks have been forestalled in sections within reach of the patrol trucks.
The Chairman, Governing Board, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Engr. Ibrahim Alhassan Musa, in a chat with the media, urged everyone to be security conscious and to report any suspicious activity to the relevant authority.
“ When you see any suspicious activity, (report it) because there is no way that people riding 50-70 motorcycles can go unnoticed without anybody seeing them or hearing the noise,” he said.
Amaechi futher condoled with all those who lost loved ones and wished the injured quick recovery.
It may be recalled that unlike the latest blast which claimed 8 lives, a similar one occurred within the same axis on October 22, 2021 though no life was lost.
Earlier, a contingent of the military-led by the Army Chief of Staff also visited the sight of the attacked train.