By Ismaila Chafe
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has advocated the death penalty for anyone caught vandalising railway facilities, so as to deter others.
The Minister said this decrying what he described as light punishment for those caught buying vandalised narrow gauge and other stolen railway facilities, noting that a Chinese company involved in the theft was only fined N200,000.
The minister, spoke while briefing State House correspondents on Friday, in Abuja, on the measure adopted by his ministry to guard against the thefts, stated that the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) lost no fewer than 15,000 clips along the Abuja-Kaduna rail line in the last five years.
”I think the law should deal with those who break it. The law should not be quiet. I don’t know what the law says, but a Chinese company arrested for buying those tracks got away with only a N200,000 fine.
”The law should give us much more than that. We got a Chinese company in Jos buying those stolen facilities from the vandals. A few months later, we arrested a Chinese man in Nasarawa. That is the issue of vandals.”
He however added that in a bid to arrest the theft of clips on rail tracks around the country, the Federal Government has commenced massive installations of anti-theft clips to check acts of vandalism,
As a result, he revealed that his ministry had resolved to henceforth install anti-theft clips to guard against the stealing of the rail tracks and other facilities.
Amaechi said: ”Like the Kaduna-Abuja rail line, where over 6,000 to 10,000 clips have been stolen and have to be replaced daily so that we don’t have a situation where the train derails.
”These clips are not made in Nigeria. They are bought overseas. So, we buy them in dollars.
”Part of the solution is something called anti-theft clips. But, they are more expensive. It is three times more expensive than the current one. But it’s better.
”We are now replacing them with anti-theft clips in Lagos-Ibadan. All other constructions will now be anti-theft. With anti-theft, you can’t open it. You can’t remove it.
”We need to now go back to the Abuja-Kaduna line and change them to anti-theft clips.
”I don’t know why we have not made that decision earlier, because we have changed up to 10,000 to 15,000 clips in six years.”
The briefing was organised by the Presidential Communication Team led by Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity.