In a stunning twist, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr. Fidet Okhiria, is set to face disciplinary actions following alleged mismanagement and operational discrepancies on the highly popular Abuja-Kaduna train service.
To this end, Okhiria and his management team are expected to appear before Transportation Minister Saidu Alkali, to brief him on the activities of the railway, Nigeria’s oldest public corporation, at the Bukar Dipcharima House today in Abuja.
Vanguard gathered that the decision to hold the NRC MD accountable was announced during the week by the Transport Minister when he embarked on an unscheduled tour of the Abuja Train Station of the Abuja-Kaduna Train Service (AKTS) to have a first-hand idea about what was on the ground at the nation’s standard gauge flagship, which started commercial operation in 2017.
Citing recent reports of persistent train delays, safety concerns, and the generally unsatisfactory experience of passengers, the Minister stated that Okhiria will personally explain his shortcomings and explain ‘satisfactorily’ why he shouldn’t face disciplinary actions.
“It is out of a desire to achieve the agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Renewed Hope. So from the experience when the visit is scheduled they’ll be able to put some of the things in place because they are aware you are coming to see.
“So, seeing is believing, as I have seen by myself. I inspected the coaches. Some of the toilet facilities are not working.
“I received a complaint from the security escorts that in the last five months their allowances were not paid and I am happy that the MD of NRC is appearing before the ministry on Tuesday to brief. So, if he comes I am now well informed the lifts and escalators aren’t working, which makes it very difficult for the elderly and the disabled persons to use the train for travelling.
“Therefore, he would explain why disciplinary action wouldn’t be taken against him,” the minister stressed”, he said.
The minister is expected to hear how the NRC has performed in the last decade, where its fortunes are being kept and its prospects.
Alkali is also expected to ask questions on the status of all the NRC subsidiaries, especially the Nigerian Railway Corporation Property Management Services Limited (NRCPMSL), arguably the largest property holding firm in Nigeria.
Expectedly, Okhiria will intimate the minister with details on the nation’s engagement with the ChinaExim Bank, which facilitated the loan with which the nation had procured the busiest trunk network – the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge – a contract the Muhammadu Buhari administration completed the Lot II segment from Lagos-Ibadan in 2021.
Alkali further outlined his plan to revamp the railway services swiftly, adding that within the next 48 hours, he assures the public that the escalators will be fixed and the lifts will be operational.