That the movement of trains or the sabotage attempts by some desperados throughout the country could be monitored on a screen in a situation room is, after all, not a matter of science fiction, or feats limited to James Bond movies. This is going by the frustration expressed by Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi when he visited the scene of the terrorists’ attack on the Abuja, Kaduna rail line on Tuesday. About eight persons, as Amaechi revealed, had so far been confirmed dead and 41 hospitalised.
On why the disaster could have been avoided,
In his words: “The numbers we have is that there are eight casualties. There are about 41 persons in different hospitals and the total number of passengers who got tickets are 398.
So, we have to wait on the security, the Kaduna State government, and the Nigerian Railway Corporation. They are all trying to make contact with those on the manifest. Few persons 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 for those on the manifest, calls are being made to reach them,” Amaechi said.
On how and why the disaster could have been avoided, Amaechi said it was because the N3 billion digital security equipment was not approved in the red tape that guides the procurement program of the Federal Government.
He submitted: “The process is tedious, the approval is also tedious, we have not been able to get that approval that will lead to the purchase of those items.
If those items were here, drones alone will tell you that there are people around the rail tracks because there are drones, there are equipment that pick sensors if you touch the track. But unfortunately, the process has not been able to get us that approval for us to import those items.
So for me, I am devastated and I honestly don’t know what to tell Nigerians anymore.”
The cameras on the train cannot pick what is happening outside. What you need is a camera that shows 100 metres away from the train, that there are unknown persons carrying a gun.
Then, we can take precautions, but we have done all we need to do in the ministry of transport and we have forwarded to them for approval but we have not gotten approval.
The patrol vehicles are available but they cannot reach everywhere. For the areas they patrol can patrol, it will forestall. We are thinking about the possibility of employing natives until we get that equipment. We also need helicopters, beyond the drones, we need helicopters.
The solution is not in running away from the militants or the bandits. The solution is providing the technology that lets you know that they are around. If it lets you know that they are around, there are two actions to take; either for the security men to go after them or you don’t ply within that period. But the agencies that need to give us approval have to give us the approval because we need to purchase those items.
No matter the cost, you cannot equate it with the eight lives that were lost. The equipment were just N3billion and we are about to place an order for the one in Lagos but we need to know what is happening on the track, it is everywhere in the world.’’