By Lateef Taiwo and Donald Tseen, Abuja:
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has ordered the removal of Abuja-Kaduna rail service Station Manager, ticketing staff and porters at Idu and Rigasa train stations.
The affected workers are allegedly responsible for
extorting money from Business Class passengers.
Passengers have in the last six weeks complained of extortion by porters whose role is to carry luggage.
Porters and some yet to be identified persons are accused of doubling N1500 fare.
The Minister who spoke during inspection of activities at Idu and Kubwa Stations in Abuja, however, expressed optimism that their removal would address the menace and restore passengers’ confidence.
He also said the arrival of more coaches would help to enhance the train service.
A porter, simply identified has Peter was also arrested at the Idurail station for ticket racketeering.
Amaechi said: “Passengers complained on social
media and when I discovered that the complaint lasted for over four weeks, it showed that it is not a lie and that is why I have come to check.“I think the best thing to do is to remove the ticket sellers in Idu and Rigasa and also remove the Station Manager at Rigasa and let’s hope that would address it.
“The porter services should also go and those who they help to carry luggages should carry their luggage themselves. We would soon fix the elevator to make it easy for passengers to carry their luggages.”
Commenting on the status of the Train, he said: “The fact that the train itself is dirty means you people are not doing the right thing because passengers complained on social media that the toilet is bad and they want me to fix it.
He also said members of the public are suggesting that the operation of rail system be concession.“The emphasis from the public is that we should concession it so that they can take over. When concessionaires put their own money, things would run well because there would be multiple coaches and it would increase competition.
Narrating how they extort money from passengers, the
Manager of Abuja-Kaduna Train Service, Pascal Nnorli said: “We have been hearing cases of ticket racketeering for the past six weeks from high profile Nigerians and the management decided to set up a team to
get to the root of the matter.
“Those behind this act sometimes lie to
Passengers that there is no more ticket. This morning, I came as early as 5am and I disguised as a passenger because they don’t know me and I called one of the porters by the name Mr. Peter and I told him I wanted
a first-class ticket.
“After a while, he called one Abass who seem to be
their ring leader and he agreed to sell it for me at the rate of N3000 as against the N1000 that is sold at the ticket office. At the end of the day, I gave him N3,000 to procure one for me and he did.
“Now that we have gotten him, he will take us to Abass, who will help us with our investigation by telling us who gives him the ticket,” the Minister said.