SAN FRANCISCO, February 03, (THEWILL) – The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has stated that the government will not increase ticket prices on the Abuja-Kaduna rail route, in order to accommodate the poor.
The Minister, who made the comment during an interview on Channels TV, noted he is aware of calls to increase the ticket prices, to ensure the railway makes enough profit to pay back the loans incurred in its construction and become sustainable but said railways don’t make profits (from passenger ticket prices) across the world because they are usually subsidised.
“If we increase the cost of the tickets, what about the poor man that wants to move from Abuja to Kaduna? What about the poor man who works in Abuja and lives in Kaduna to save the cost of accommodation,” he said.
“So, usually, all over the world, you subsidise railway, so that the poor can have an easy means for transportation so that you improve your economy. Don’t forget, the railway is built not for passenger transportation, it is built as a means to grow the economy of a country.
“The economy will pay for it. Take the numbers of businesses that you grow across that line, take the numbers of companies you’ve established, take the taxes they pay to you.”
Meanwhile, to solve the problem of ticket racketeering on the Abuja-Kaduna rail route, the Minister said the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) is set to roll out new locomotives and coaches.
He explained that the number of coaches and locomotives earlier deployed to the route was for 300 daily passengers.
“Traffic count as at the time we deployed those coaches was 300. So, every day you move 300 passengers,” he said. “And suddenly there is a spike. You have 3,700 passengers per day with the same number of locomotives and coaches for 300 people, so what do you do?
“Don’t forget that the coaches and locomotives are not things you just go to the shop and buy. No, you have to manufacture, you have to fabricate. It took us nearly two years to fabricate the new coaches and locomotives that are just arriving now.”