As the protest against the planned resumption of train services along the Abuja – Kaduna gained intensity, the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) has explained that the decision to get back on the tracks by Monday, 23rd May was influenced by pressure by Nigerians.
NRC Managing Director, Mr Fidet Okhiria said the corporation had been under pressure from the “mighty and low” to resume operation on that axis.
But a group of families of the kidnapped passengers vowed to disrupt the resumed services.
The group known as Relatives of AK9 Abuja-Kaduna Train Kidnapped Passengers, insisted that operations would not resume along that corridor until their loved ones safely return.
One of the leaders of the group, Hassan Mohammed, said a peaceful protest would be held in Abuja and Kaduna for the NRC to rescind its decision.
“We maintain and stand on everything we have said at the last briefing. They must not go ahead with their plans to commence operations,” he said.
The group’s spokesperson, Idayat Yusuf said it was inconsiderate for the NRC to announce the resumption of operation.
She stated: “The whole world knows we have been patient. The railway in that axis cannot resume operation. They should not dare us.
“You have people who boarded your train and were kidnapped and are yet to regain their freedom, all you are concerned about is to resume operation? The NRC should have a rethink.”
But Okhiria, who spoke on Arise News discussion programme, said the NRC weighed options before deciding to resume operations.
He described some of those claiming to be relatives of those in captivity as fake, adding that the NRC is in touch with the real ones.
He said: “We have worked very hard in the last one month to the best we can do to ensure that those held hostage are released.
“We have been under pressure from Nigerians – mighty and low – to resume operations. They are those who want to benefit from a working train.
“We have weighed the pros and cons and can’t fold up the country.
“If you identify those people who are against the resumption and investigate them, you will discover that they are not related to those in captivity. We are talking to the families of those being held. As I said earlier, we are under tremendous pressure to resume operation”.
Okhiria further said that if the trains are deserted for a long period, it would have adverse security implications on the train infrastructure.
He said that train services in that axis would witness intense security measures upon resumption.
A group of terrorists detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on an inbound Kaduna – Abuja train on 28th March. One of the passengers narrated exclusively to Breezy News how some of them survived.
The train with at least 362 passengers derailed and the terrorists gained access to it while shooting sporadically at the coaches.
Eight passengers of the passengers were confirmed dead, while 26 got injured and no fewer than 62 were taken away and kidnapped. More than 180 others have however been reported safe by the NRC.
The NRC had to suspend its operation on the axis the next day giving room for the damaged tracks to be repaired.