Senate, yesterday, described the Abuja-Kaduna Highway as the most dangerous in Africa; as a result of activities of kidnappers and bandits operating on that axis.
This was senate’s position after a motion on “Urgent need to increase the number of couches to the Abuja-Kaduna railway line.”
The position of the Red Chamber is contrary to a recent declaration by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who told travellers that the road has been cleared of elements terrorising them.
Senator Shehu Sani had, while contributing to the motion, described Abuja-Kaduna highway as one of the most dangerous in Africa. His colleague, James Manager, countered that the highway is not one of the most dangerous, but, the most dangerous road in Africa.
Manager added that it is apparent that only those who wanted to commit suicide would ply the road.
He said the motion should be the saving grace for the rich and poor and added that government should take steps to patronise local manufacturers for the production of coaches.
Deputy Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, on his own, noted that what should be done is to increase the frequency of the train service between Abuja and Kaduna.
Na’Allah said the impression should not be created that Abuja-Kaduna expressway had been abandoned to kidnappers and bandits.
Chairman, Committee on Land Transport, Gbenga Ashafa, described the motion as important.
The Lagos East senator told his colleagues that he just came back from the peoples Republic of China, a trip that was necessitated by the pressure on the rail lines.
He said the Federal Government has paid for 64 couches, eight of which would be delivered within eight weeks.
On his part, Magnus Abe said senate should take into cognisance, the fact that the rail lines were built with borrowed funds. The Rivers South East senator said the view of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC)should be taken into account; in relation to fare.
Ndume, in his lead debate, noted with concern the undue pressure on existing facilities at the Abuja-Kaduna railway line.
Most passengers en-route Abuja-Kaduna, he said, have turned to the railway as a safer means of transportation.
Ndume said he is aware that the surge in patronage of rail services may have been attributed to its safety, comfort, convenience and perhaps, affordability, which have drawn many commuters, following risks on Abuja-Kaduna expressway as most of them are wary of kidnappers, armed robbers and other kinds of criminals.
The surge, he added, has led to rowdiness during ticket purchase and survival of the fittest for passengers willing to buy tickets across the counters as officials deliberately hoard and sold tickets to the highest bidders.
Ndume said although every good thing usually faces its share of challenges, “what the rail transit (Abuja-Kaduna) is faced with is shortage in the number of available coaches, which explains the long queues recorded at the stations.”
He expressed worry that Nigerians willing to use the rail service now queue up for hours, before boarding, due to increased demand.
The former senate leader prayed the chamber to urge the federal government to deploy more coaches to the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, to ameliorate the plight of passengers as well as urge the NRC to reduce the fare from N1,500 to N600; to make it affordable to the public.
At end of the debate, senate resolved to urge NRC to review the fare structure, in relation to cost and also urged government to deploy more coaches to the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, to ameliorate the plight of the passengers.