The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has talked about why train service along the Warri-Itakpe corridor has not resumed over six weeks after its suspension, The Nation reports,
The service was suspended on 22nd January by the Corporation after the train derailed at Km30 Ajaokuta-Itakpe section in Kogi State with 148 passengers and 30 crew members on board.
There are indications that the service has remained suspended due to a lack of Point of Sale (POS) and bank transfer payment methods at the stations.
An official of NRC who spoke to our correspondent in a telephone chat said the delay was also due to a scarcity of cash.
The official, who pleaded anonymity, said: “The decision to resume is a management decision, hopefully after the governorship election, the service will resume because the tracks, the locomotive, and the vehicles that were affected after the train derailed have been fixed, so it is just the management that will decide on when to start.
“However, I think the main reason for the delay is that the Nigerian Railway Corporation does not accept POS or transfer mode of payment for the purchase of tickets at its payment counter and the issue of cash scarcity in society right now is affecting it.
“The fact is, if you put out a train right now, the likelihood that you will not get patronage is very high, so I think that is one of the reasons why the service is yet to resume but we hope that after the election, there would be improvements on this.
He added that the attention that has shifted to the election and the scarcity of cash has led to loss of income for the corporation.
“After the governorship election, if there is improvement in the availability of cash, I believe the management will commence but as it is right now, in Delta and Edo states, banks are releasing N2000 to N3000 to customers and train tickets are N5000 to N9000. So, you can imagine how it will be difficult for them to get enough money to board the train.”
“The focus has completely moved to elections. Our inability to resume operation has led to loss of revenue whether we like it or not, but I believe as soon as the election is over, there will be pressure for the service to resume.”
He however noted that efforts are ongoing to deploy POS machines to stations along the corridor.
“I understand that the finance department of the Corporation is working on the possibility of getting POS in all its stations because the delay won’t be necessary if passengers can buy their tickets with ATM cards.