*Scanners in Rigasa station grounded
*Passengers board trains unchecked
*Plane overshoots runway in Abuja
By Adelola Amihere
Passengers travelling to Abuja from Kaduna on train have expressed concern over the security and boarding arrangements at some stations on the route.
They are particularly worried that in spite of the activities of bandits and terrorists in some parts of Kaduna State, passengers board trains on the route without proper security check, especially at the Rigasa station.
According to some of the passengers, who spoke with The AUTHORITY on the development, they lamented that security arrangement at the Rigasa station had continued to deteriorate.
They alleged that normal checks on luggage and persons at the entrance of the departure gate were no longer observed. They also observed that Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) staff and some members of the security forces even assist passengers breach security.
One of the passengers who narrated a sad experience while travelling from the Rigasa station to Abuja yesterday said that the level of apprehension among the passengers could be felt, adding that they never felt safe throughout the journey because there were no scanners at the station to screen both travellers and their luggage.
He said that such weak template is unexpected in the face of the security challenges especially in Kaduna and other parts of the country.
He said: “I just left Kaduna Train Station (Rigasa) to Abuja and I noticed a very big and dangerous security lapse. Normal checks of bags and persons at the entrance door were waived and even the frisking of bags was not serious.
“Many passengers came from last night’s diverted planes from Abuja and it was a very poor arrangement, especially in the face of security issues in Nigeria.
“Recall that recently, a train ran into some cows and there were security alerts concerning the activities of bandits in Kaduna.
“I also noticed activities of touts here. When I came an hour before boarding, VIP tickets were said to have been exhausted, but as we were about to board, we noticed some touts reselling these tickets.
“I feel the way to put an end to touting at the station is for the Minister of Transportation to insist on online ticketing as is the case with the airlines. Why should they even be selling tickets physically in this era and given the volatile security situation and since ICT has made things easy for everyone?” the informant queried.
A key industry player, who sought anonymity, admitted there were indeed security lapses along the route, particularly at the Rigasa station.
Several people that travelled from Rigasa to Abuja in the past two months who were contacted shared similar anxiety.
He said: “Security is a big challenge truly. This has been on for about three months now. Our scanners have been down and we have been writing to the authorities to please do something about it.
“We learnt they have been sending people to check the scanners but nothing has been done to fix them.
“We even complained to the Kaduna State Police Commissioner who admitted that it was an issue of security at the state level, and promised to take the matter to the state’s security meeting because it’s their concern too, but the situation has not changed”.
When The AUTHORITY contacted the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr. Mamud Yakub, he said that the security in the station had been outsourced to a company, and cannot speak on why the scanners at the station were not working.
Yakub said: “There are security agencies there. Even the police have an outpost there. The Police Commissioner is in-charge of security in the state. I cannot speak for the police”.
Expressing anger over the professional decision to contact him on the matter, he added: “People should stop condemning the efforts of this government. We have provided such a fantastic thing for Nigerians, but every time condemnation and condemnation!
“There are security lapses everywhere. Are there scanners at the car park at the airport? Even in Idu, are there scanners at the car park?
“Instead of condemning the government, you should appreciate the government for what they have done and ask that the same tight security provided at Idu Train Station should be done at Rigasa”.
*Plane overshoots runway in Abuja
Also yesterday, air travellers were stranded at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, when an aricraft overshot the runway, disrupting flight operations.
It was learnt that the aircraft, a Gulfstream 4 belonging to Skybird, overshot the runway on Wednesday night and was stuck thereafter.
Airport officials said that the aircraft landed through Runway 22 and was stuck on the Runway Safety Area.
“The RESA is about 30 metres from Runway 22 end, and the incident happened at about 10.20pm local time on Wednesday,” one of the official said.
He said that the runway’s surface was wet at the time of the incident.
The incident disrupted flight operations at the airport, leading to many passengers being stranded on Thursday.