The Nigeria Union of Railway Workers is urging the Federal Government to provide adequate measures for the protection of workers and passengers against Coronavirus before resuming train services.
The union, in a statement, charged the Federal Government to ensure that all required safety and preventive protocols were put in place before bringing the trains back on track.
The statement signed by the Secretary-General, NUR, Segun Esan, stated that as the government was considering the need to reopen Nigerian Railway despite the rising number of cases and deaths from the virus, the health and safety of stakeholders must be prioritised.
The statement was entitled ‘Safety of the Nigerian railway workers and train commuters from COVID-19: matter arising’.
According to NUR, returning train services is a welcome idea and should be a direct function of robust insulation from the pandemic of all the workers of the corporation and the teeming commuters and customers of the corporation.
The union said, “The health and safety of the lives of our teeming train commuters and those of our members are very dear to us and, therefore, we will not be favourably disposed to whatever situation that will in any way undermine the health of our members and passengers/customers.
“We have the obligation to advise the Federal Government to put in place effective safety and protective measures in all the train stations across the Nigerian railway system to curb the spread of the pandemic through person-to-person contact at the train stations or on the trains.”
In the statement, the government is petitioned to ensure that all the frontline workers like the ticket checkers, station workers, loco driving crew, mechanical workers and other employees were provided with personal protective equipment.
The union called for adequate healthcare facilities to be provided within railway industrial clinics to serve as care and isolation centres where coronavirus cases could be promptly addressed.
Esan called for the payment of hazard allowance to healthcare workers in the railway service’s health department and clinics.
“All the health workers in the corporation’s health department and various clinics should be adequately protected against the virus and should be paid hazard allowances as obtainable in the health sector,” he said.
He added, “We implore the Federal Government to complete the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri (Eastern Line) rail track so as to evolve a rail transport sub-sector that can play its traditional role as the infrastructural backbone and mainstay of the transport economy.”
The corporation suspended train services in March in compliance with a circular from the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation directing level 12 officers and below to stay back and work from home.