FORMER lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District Senator Shehu Sani has expressed concern over the frequent breakdown of trains along the Abuja-Kaduna train route saying it is happening because the authorities are buying refurbished locomotives.
Last week, the train along Nigeria’s flagship Abuja to Kaduna railway line broke down, leaving passengers stranded in the bush for two hours. Exposed to attacks from criminals and bandits, the passengers had to wait along the tracks until repairs were effected and the train could resume its journey.
Senator Sani, who was the chairman of the Senate Committee on Loans and Grants while in office accused the government of buying refurbished locomotives. He added that the Chinese contractors must replace these old and secondhand locomotives at no cost to the federal government.
“It’s painful and tragic for our country to pay for sub-standard or refurbished locomotives with huge loans. Broken down locomotives along the Kaduna-Abuja route is putting the lives of many in danger, the Chinese contractor must replace them at zero cost to the government,” Senator Sani added.
Nigeria’s federal government is trying to upgrade the country’s railway network, replacing the pre-colonial single gauge tracks laid down by the British with double gauge ones. China has been central to the programme but all the equipment used is imported with none of it being manufactured in Nigeria.
This frequent breakdown of locomotives led transport minister Rotimi Ameachi to apologise to Nigerians for the inconvenience. He is yet, however, to announce a local manufacturing programme that will see all the tracks, signalling equipment, locomotives and railway carriages manufactured in Nigeria to not only create jobs and save foreign exchange but also guarantee quality control.