The Federal Government has fulfilled it promise of shoring up the security of rail lines across the country with the procurement of over six hilux patrol vehicles inputed with radar scanners to safeguard passengers and railway equipment from attacks.
An event following the recent bomb explosion which rocks the Abuja-Kaduna rail tracks in late 2021.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani while handing over the vehicles to the management of NRC led by its Managing Director, Mr. Fidet Okhiria at the Idu Train Station, Abuja, on behalf of the Minister, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, said the ministry is aware of the security situation of the country and deemed it fit to support the security architecture of the NRC.
According to Amaechi, it has been long since the project got completed, commissioned and operational, being a 2021 project as a way of improving the security apparatus for the patrolling of Abuja-Kaduna route to support NRC and the Nigeria Police working on that route to effectively carry out their functions.
“Remember this is a project that has long being completed, commissioned and operational, so this was a project for 2021, at least to improve the security apparatus tor the patrolling of that route and so, the ministry has to procure these vehicles to support NRC and the Nigeria Police working on that route to effectively police that route and that is why the ministry procured this.”
“The security apparatus we have for most of the rail track has a number of components into it. we have the local people that are patrolling, the civil defence, the police corp of the Nigerian Railway Corporation and we have locations where stations are, where we need the security men to be able to move from one location to the other in addition to the fact that we are also looking at surveillance applications and fibre optic equipment too but for the movement of the security, we need these vehicles.”
Amaechi further noted that the vehicles would aid the activities of security officers during emergency situation with ease of movement from point to point and may not necessarily be along the rail track, adding that the purchase was done through a normal procurement process.
“The sensors are the accostic and fibre optic equipment we are talking about. Those ones are still in the procurement process, we have gotten approval from NITDA which is one of the requisitions because they are tech-based equipment and when the procurement process is concluded, they will be installed.”
The Board Chairman, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) Engr. Ibrahim Alhassan, said the Ministry’s support is a show that other institutions in government, organizations and private sector as well as anyone that can assist to make life easier and safer for the passengers can if they put their heart to it adding that the NRC needs mobility as security personnel cannot just sit at a place.
“The insecurity in this country is something else, it is unprecedented. We have seen things happen in other countries where Nigeria has helped out with insecurity, but unfortunately, we have been on peacekeeping missions and other things in other countries but here, nobody is offering a helping hand.
“I think what the Ministry has done is very welcomed, we really appreciate it and we feel that we are not alone, we are being supported. By and large, the operations we run are more or less kind of social security operations. Without the trains a lot of people would not be able to travel. When the last unfortunate incident happened when we did not run for two days a lot of people could not travel.
“So, we need to be able to distribute these vehicles to our various operational locations so that we can monitor and patrol. Patrol and monitoring is key and the scanners will provide additional security so that passengers boarding will be safe.”
The Managing Director of NRC, Mr. Fidet Okhiria in a similar vain said the vehicles will operate within the stations that are accessible and revealed that the NRC is considering having a railroad, a digitized audio and video system where alarm can be raised when the track is tampered with.
“This is to show that we are rising up to the challenges we are facing with security. The Minister decided to buy some vehicles, the six Hilux vehicles will be used to aid the security personnel in moving about so that the tracks are properly patrolled and guided. The purchase of the vehicles was already in the process before the attack on the Abuja-Kaduna track.
Okhiria further disclosed that the NRC is expecting a lot of scanners such as the luggage, walkthrough and parcel scanners in line with technology trends that can detect explosives.
“We have five explosive detectors here, there are more than these, the rest are in Lagos.” Okhiria said.
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