The Senate has called on the Federal Government and the relevant Security Agencies to ensure that the perpetrators responsible for dismantling rail lines across the country are charged with economic sabotage, as well as dealt maximum punishment without option of fine.
This was just as the chamber urged the relevant authorities including the Nigerian Railway Corporation to engage the services of Local Security Guards along all the Railway Lines in the country.
These were resolutions reached after the upper chamber considered a motion on the “urgent need to curb the dismantling of the standard/narrow gauge rail lines by some disgruntled elements in Nigeria”.
Sponsor of the motion, Senator Buhari Abdulfatai (Oyo North), in his presentation, “notes that the railway boosted the Nigerian local content through employment of indigenous workers from the various ethnic groups in the country, and was therefore acknowledged as having a diversified work force;
“Aware that the Nigerian rail has been neglected for decades but in recent time, the government has stepped up the rehabilitation, revitalization, reinvigoration and construction of railways across the country;
“Acknowledges that the Warri-Itakpe standard gauge rail line was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari on 23rd September 2020 with freight services further commissioned on 16th April 2021;
“Considers that the rail transport system is the most cost effective, affordable, energy saving and environmentally friendly form of transportation;
“Also considers that the economic level of traffic can be consolidated to enable the railway provide efficient services for high density flows of homogenous traffic over relatively long distance, particularly the high volumes of containerized cargo or bulk freight such as oil and gas, coal, steel or agricultural products;
“Concerned that recently some unscrupulous persons damaged, vandalized and maliciously cut some portions of the newly constructed Warri-Itakpe rail line at about Kilometre 30 in Adogo, Kogi State;
“Aware that in Niger State, the Nigerian Police Force intercepted trucks loaded with tail tracks and pieces of rail sleepers along Kataeregi-Minna road;
“Alarmed that the newly completely Lagos-Ibadan rail line was vandalized in 2019 where clips, bolts and knots of the rail tracks were carted away;
“Further alarmed that the same incident of theft of rail clips that hold the sleepers and rail together happened in Zaria, Kaduna State, even as it would be recalled that in May, this year, a train loaded with water pipes from Lagos to Zaria derailed along Kanawa axis, opposite Sultan Bello Mosque in Kaduna due to vandals’ activities; and
“Worried that all the aforementioned rail vandalism can cause acute train mishap, resulting in loss of precious lives which is tantamount to murder and destruction of properties.”
Accordingly, the upper chamber urged the Federal Government, particularly the Federal Ministry of Transport and the relevant Security Agencies to ensure that the perpetrators, including the saboteurs are charged for economic sabotage with maximum punishment without option of fine.
It also urged the relevant authorities including the Nigerian Railway Corporation to engage the services of Local Security Guards along all the Railway Lines in the country.
The Senate also mandated its Committee on Police Affairs to liaise with the hierarchy of the Nigeria police Force (NPF) and the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to work out modalities towards regular patrol and surveillance of rail tracks within the country.