Passengers shun Abuja-Kaduna railway due to fare hike
• NRC Records 40 % Passenger Turnout
One month after commencement of commercial operations on the Abuja-Kaduna railway, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) is still battling with low passenger turnout, as many commuters have opted for commercial vehicles, despite insecurity and the deplorable state of roads. Currently, NRC is recording about 30 to 40 percent patronage of what it enjoyed before the COVID-19 lockdown.
This development is not unconnected with the over 100 percent increase in train fares. The economy cabin, which used to be N1300, now goes for N3000, while the business coach was increased from N2500 to N6000.
A typical Friday at Idu-kubwa and Rigasa stations before the increase used to be a peak period. Passengers that did not get to the station two hours before boarding time found it difficult getting a ticket. But when The Guardian visited the station last Friday, very few passengers were seen at Idu Station.
A security guard at the station, who craved anonymity, said: “We would love to have the large number of passengers like before, but what can we do? The passengers are complaining about the high fares…”
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, at the commencement of commercial operation disclosed that they were starting an hourly train service, following procurement and deployment of additional coaches and locomotives. However, one month after, the corporation is till grappling to maintain the regular eight-hour schedule, owing to low passenger turnout.
Then, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai had commended the Federal Government for increasing the fares, saying, “I think it is appropriate to increase fares. I have always been of the view that the fares were too low, which led to racketeering, because if you don’t get the ticket, you have to buy it from the middleman at twice the price. So, why shouldn’t government capture that?…”
But many passengers that couldn’t afford the new prices have returned to travelling by road, which is cheaper at N1200.
A passenger, Zeenat Ahmed, said the situation should have been managed in such a way that both parties share the burden, rather than transferring everything to the passengers.
No comments yet