Commuters fault FG over absence of online booking at Abuja train service

says it will eliminate ticket hoarding

COMMUTERS on Abuja-Kaduna train service has challenged the federal government to make available an online method of ticketing in order to alleviate the suffering of passengers patronising the service, who most times are forced to stand, or purchase tickets at an exorbitant price or stay back due to unavailability of the ticket.

Ticket hoarding and racketeering, a menace that has to besiege the service for over a long period causing even the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi to pay an unscheduled visit to the Idu station.

On the day of the Minister’s visit at Idu, a tout was caught trying to sell black market ticket while other involve took to their heels.

With every other effort made by the Ministry of transportation and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), ticket hoarding has refused to go with many believing that, the staff of the service do not necessarily want the trend to end.

One of the passengers who spoke to Tribune Online, Segun Adebayo said it was unfortunate that the government has allowed few people to hold Nigerians to ransom for too long.

“What does it take to have an online ticketing platform where everyone will be required to present an ID card before boarding just like airlines do,” he questioned.

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Adebayo said the non-availability of a transparent method of ticketing has given the opportunity for questionable characters within and outside the system to fraudulently enrich themselves while Nigerians suffer.

Although the federal government through NRC has been working on an online method of ticketing, however, the platform is yet to be ready.

In January, the Managing Director of NRC, Fidet Okharia told the public to disregard any online platform on ticketing, noting that it was fake and that the Corporation was yet to finished work on the platform.

He said “we require our e-ticketing to be very secure so that people cannot hack into it and dupe unsuspecting customers. We have not started and Nigerians should know that.

“So, I will appeal to them that they should not patronise a site for ticketing issues, we still sell our tickets in hard copies at the stations,” he stated.

He explained that the processing of introducing the e-ticket was ongoing, adding that it would be through a Public-Private Partnership arrangement which would go through due process.

“We have gone very far, we want to partner with private companies so that there will be reliability. It is presented with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission so that all due processes will be met, I hope by the first quarter of 2019, we will finish with the processes,” he stated.

Though the platform is yet to be ready in the second quarter of the year which would have made travelling by the train from Abuja to Kaduna easy vice versa, the diversion from Abuja-Kaduna highway to the rail has given many a cause for concern as the population available for transit is overwhelming the infrastructures available at the service.

But again, this is good business for those who hoard tickets at the stations. Tribune Online also spoke to another passenger, Ruth Samson, who narrated how she had gone to the station hour before the said time for taking off and queued to buy a ticket, “only for them to sell to about thirty persons and announced that the tickets were finished for that particular trip.

“I had no option but to go and buy the ticket for standing and I was carrying a child. Initially, I wanted to stay back to see whether it was possible for me to purchase the ticket for the next trip but I was advised against it by people that we were on the queue together that even if I waited till tomorrow, the same thing will happen.

The Manager of Idu station, Pascal Nnoli had told our reporter that the service had no control over the number of tickets that an individual would purchase.

Meanwhile the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said the service will take delivery of 10 coaches by June in an effort to accommodate the upsurge of passengers, a development caused by diversion from Kaduna highway due to kidnapping activities.

Since the activities of kidnappers became rampant on Abuja-Kaduna road, many commuters have abandoned transit to both cities by road thereby overwhelming the service which has only four coaches at the moment.

Though Amaechi in April had ordered for the relocation of additional coaches from the Itakpe-Warri service to Abuja with a view of reducing the pressure, the situation has not changed yet.

Amaechi stated a few weeks ago in China that, “I requested for 10 coaches now because we need to improve on Kaduna-Abuja line. If the 10 doesn’t come there is nothing I can do but it has to come because they have to manufacture for us to use in Kaduna-Abuja service.”

It is hoped that in the absence of an organised ticketing system, the availability of sufficient coaches will reduce the desperation among passengers which in turn, make ticket hoarding and racketeering less attractive.

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