By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Tuesday, said he predicted Monday’s attack on the Kaduna-bound train, lamenting that he had requested digital security apparatus to forestall such incident.
The visibly angry Amaechi told reporters that the attack would have been foiled if the procurement of the N3 billion high capacity rail track cameras and sensors was not blocked. He said the equipment would eliminate all blind spots on the train corridors across the country.
The minister, who spoke during a visit to the scene of the attack, said eight persons died in the terrorist attack while 25 persons were injured and hospitalised. He added that 398 passengers were on board.
He said: “We knew what the problems will be. We know we needed to have digital security equipment on the corridors. We applied for it. Let me just stop here so I don’t hurt so many people. But I heard the president has given a directive that the procurement must be completed immediately.
“If we had those equipment on the tracks, you will see the entire track. And we warned that lives would be lost. Now lives were lost. Eight persons dead and 25 persons in the hospital. We don’t know how many people have been kidnapped. And the cost of those equipment is just N3 billion. The cost of what we have lost is more than N3 billion.
“We have lost track. We have lost locomotives and coaches. We have lost human beings. And the equipment is just N3 billion. To fix the damages will cost more than N3 billion. To imagine that we just said give us the approval and not even the money. At the time we asked for it, dollar was N400, and now its about N500. When you come with sincerity to government and people are stopping you, it is annoying.”
Amaechi said contact tracing of passengers had started, to identify everyone on board the train.
“The Kaduna State Government and the Nigerian Railway Corporation are all trying to make contact with those on the manifest. There are few persons who are not on the manifest like the staff of the NRC, staff of the cleaning contractor, they are not on the manifest and we may not be able to completely account for them but those on the manifest, calls are being made to reach them.”
The Nigerian Railway Corporation hasn’t released manifest of those on the train and has yet to officially release number of casualties and the extent of the damage.