It is becoming increasingly difficult to believe political office holders or appointees when they make statements especially when they are meant to give assurances. Sometimes these assurances are given with the intent to defraud the system or hoodwink the people or audience. There is a fraud underneath here!
In 2018, yours sincerely was privileged to lead a team of technocrats on railway e-ticketing to submit proposal to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. The Ministry or Minister never talked about it afterwards. We had our eyes on curbing the huge manual ticketing fraud associated with the Abuja-Kaduna train services.
Suddenly, on December 26, 2019, the Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC),Mr. Fidet Okhiria announced that the Corporation would soon introduce e-ticketing for train services across the country. He told the press that they were at its final state of deployment.
According to him,” The e-ticketing has gone to an advanced stage, the process is on. We are just at the final stage of getting approval for them to be deployed. It has passed through the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Bureau of Public Enterprise(BPE). We hope that very soon it will kick-off. I can’t give the time exactly when it will start but the Federal Executive Council(FEC) will decide.
Instructively, he added that the e-ticket would be sold at various designated places to enable people access tickets easily with fewer hurdles. He also said the platform would not only guarantee orderliness in purchasing tickets but would address some major security challenges.
However, months later, it was learnt that it was deployed for Abuja-Kaduna rail services.
But, in March 2022, an Abuja-Kaduna train carrying 362 passengers officially was attacked and 100 passengers abducted, while report had it that the train was carrying about 900 passengers, suggesting that over 50 per cent of the passengers in the ill-fated train obtained their tickets fraudulently.
The question remains: What happened to the e-ticketing platform?
Before leaving office in May 2023, the former Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo said the a new security measure was put in place in the train boarding system as passengers must present their National Identification Number(NIN) to buy ticket for boarding.
But sadly, the level of fraud in the railway boarding system now is so alarming. It not only raises security concern but starving the NRC of funds. Lately, the headquarters of NRC runs in darkness as they lack funds to purchase diesel to power the premises when there is no electricity.
The boarding experience of Daramola E. Adenike is revealing as it is overwhelming.
The summary:”On my way to Lagos from Ibadan today, some NRC employees lured us to board the train without tickets. Initially, they acted like they were taking us to the ticket counter only for them to lead us to the Railway without official ticket.
They collected cash on transit.”
The encounter, “On October 2, 2023, my friends and I were going back to Lagos after a weekend getaway in Ibadan.
We arrived at the train station around 03:40pm. While we were walking to the entrance of Obafemi Awolowo Train Station Ibadan, a uniformed NRC official approached us.
He asked if we had the tickets and I told him we were on our way to get tickets. He then asked how many we are and I told him that we are five (5).
He told us to follow him. We were confident we could trust him because he was wearing a uniform and identified as a staff.
My friends and I followed him thinking he was leading us to the ticket counter only for us to pass through screening and head towards the railway.
I immediately told him that we do not have tickets to board the train but he said I shouldn’t worry that it would be sorted.
He handed me over to another uniformed staff who led us to Coach 7. I told the lady the same thing that we do not have tickets and she said she was aware and it would be sorted.
I was so uncomfortable and unsettled so I asked two other persons if they had tickets.
I discovered every single person onboard coach 7 had no ticket and were lured in the same way.
At this time, I realized what was happening and became more uncomfortable.
I was about to step out to look for the ticket counter when I saw that the time was 3:55pm.
While pacing and looking for a staff, I saw new people come into the train and I approached one of them. I asked him if he had a ticket and he said yes. I asked him when he got the ticket and he replied, “Just now”
This ruled out my assumption that we were too late.
I saw the uniformed staff that led us into the train and asked him about the tickets. His response was that we are a group of 5 so if we go to the counter to purchase the tickets we would not be able to sit together.
I was shocked. He couldn’t even make something believable up.
I went back to my seat. I still had my money with me so I would wait and see what happens next.
Few minutes after the train started moving, they started collecting cash from people on Coach 7
I paid N18,000 cash for 5 persons
Over 60 persons paid N3,600 each without tickets.”
Her submission: “Very soon, the new railway will be grounded and some people will turn around to blame truck owners. Today, it is 1 coach, in view months, if this is not checked, greed will set in and the syndicate will be collecting cash on 5 coaches.”
Now, what happened to the e-ticketing platform and all it promised? It was never deployed but can someone account for this?
It is obvious that this ticket syndicate is from within NRC, but who is behind it?