Abuja railway operators have defied the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government’s directive on free train rides for the Yuletide season, as they have continued to sell tickets at exorbitant prices to passengers, Peoples Gazette has learnt.
The Nigerian Government had announced the free train service in a notice issued by the Nigerian Railway Corporation with reference number PRO.14/TROPS/VOL.1/50, and signed by the Deputy Director, Public Relations, NRC, Yakub Mahmood, on Friday.
The free train service was approved by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, according to the NRC, as it stressed that the gesture was for all its passenger train services across the country.
The NRC had said, “The Federal Government through Ministry of Transportation has in the spirit of Christmas declared passenger trains across the Nigerian Railway Corporation system free of charge during the Christmas period to enable Nigerians to travel and celebrate Christmas.
“All the passenger trains on both standard and narrow gauge lines, which include Abuja to Kaduna, Lagos to Ibadan, Warri to Itakpe, Kano to Lagos, Minna to Kaduna, Aba to Port-Harcourt routes are now all free from today Friday, December 24, 2021 to Tuesday, January 4, 2022 inclusive.”
Operators at the Idu Train Terminal in the early hours of Saturday sold out tickets to passengers aboard the Abuja-Kaduna train at the rate of N12,000 and N8, 000 on Friday evening which ordinary cost about N2,000 normally.
“This morning on Christmas Day, corrupt railway officials are still selling ‘FG Free Train Tickets’ at IDU Train Station in Abuja as high as N12,000 for Nigerians. Obviously, the Ministry of Transportation and NRA aren’t doing enough to curb this inhuman act,” Deji Adesogan, a notable political commentator on Twitter said.
Adesogan also noted that the travelers who had relied on the means of travelling “massively” purchased the tickets.
But another Twitter user, @Bizzylyks, also claimed that passengers paid N8,000 for the ticket as of Friday evening.
“My aunt’s child and some of their mates went for a football trial in Abuja, they paid for tickets today, they suffered before they even got the ticket for 6:00pm. I even informed them that it’s free today,” he wrote as of 8:50pm on Friday.
Another user, Maclams wrote, “Abuja to Kaduna Train ticket is N8,000. State of the country! My sis came in today and some other friends and that’s what it cost them.”
Meanwhile, users confirmed that passengers from Lagos to Ibadan were not charged for boarding the train.