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Rail Modernisation Master Plan: Nigeria needs Strong Implementation Committee for Dream Realisation- Opeifa 

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Rail Modernisation Master Plan: Nigeria needs Strong Implementation Committee for Dream Realisation- Opeifa 

A Transportation Expert has urged the Federal Government to urgently set up a strong Technical Committee to review the implementation and updating of ‘Nigeria 25 Years Rail Modernisation Master Plan’ and the ‘Nigerian Rail Transportation System’ so as reinvigorate both the document and vision driving government’s dream and make it achievable.

The expert, who is the Executive Director, Center for Sustainable Mobility and Access Development (CenSMAD), Dr. Kayode Opeifa stated this last week, at the 4th National Transport Summit of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration in Nigeria, while delivering a paper on ‘Safety and Security of Rail Transportation in Nigeria’.

Speaking at the Shehu Musa Yar Adua Centre, Abuja on the theme: Transportation Safety, Opeifa noted that the Nigeria Railway Corporation is currently about 124 years old (1898 to 2022);  and stressed the need for very strong leadership, who would not only recognise the vision of Government, but also be dedicated enough to boldly pursue and midwife it as conceived.

He specifically pointed out that a bird’s eye view shows that the implementation of the milestone documents are seemingly lagging, especially, considering recent realities and opportunities facing the county; as well as considering the fact that even in 2022 we are still in phase! 

“Let me at this point call attention of the Honorable Minister of Transport to an urgent need to set up a strong Technical Committee to review the implementation of this fantastic and excellent document with a view to updating it as it seems the implementation of the milestones are lagging; and considering recent realities and opportunities facing the county, as well as considering the fact that in 2022 we are still in phase”, Opeifa stressed, emphasizing that the vision proposed in the document will materialize, only with “strong leadership, commitment, broad national support and participation.

Buttressing his view by the nation’s enviable antecedents, he called the attention of the Minister of Transportation, Muazu Jaji Sambo to the fact that Nigeria is a strong integral part of the world community, hence, adaptation and flexibility must be the watchword for the years ahead. 

“As of date, we have about 4,174+km consisting of about 3,505km of Narrow gauge; and about 800km of standard gauge”, the former Lagos State Commissioner of Transportation stated, mentioning the NRC Network, Abuja Light rail System,

Calabar Monorail system, Rivers Monorail system in Port Harcourt and the Upcoming Lagos rail Mass Transit system; in addition to 156.5 Km Double Standard Guage Lagos to Ibadan Rail line with extension by 6.5km, to Apapa Sea Port (2020).

“The Nigeria Rail Transportation System pioneered the rapid opening of the geographical area called Nigeria”, he stated, adding that the railway act of 1955 (as amended 2004) mandates the Corporation to develop National Rail Infrastructure and Operate Rail service on both the Narrow- and Standard-gauge rail lines. 

“Nigerians will want the best value for their money and will therefore demand a rail system that will move them quickly, safely, and comfortably in a way that is environmentally friendly” he indicated, itemizing other reasons, below: 

*Nigeria is grossly underdeveloped with respect to rail service, as a study of the comparative mobility indexes for African States and other countries establishes this fact. 

*Technological change will influence developments in the Transportation Sector. 

*Operational and demographic changes will encourage integrated and intermodal transportation. 

*Potential investors will invest under conditions that enable them make fair returns on their investment.

“In all, what makes the Railway transportation system is not just the Rail tracks and the Rolling stock but much more, including the governance structure, safety and security systems; Passenger and freight services administration; statutes and legal framework/environment; ticketing systems, Data and information management systems; signaling Systems, among others; and the associated policies guiding them.

He thereafter distinctly identified the difference between Rail Safety and environmental security.

He maintained that rail Safety basically entails all activities involved and affected by internal day-to-day operations, administration, deployment, maintenance and passenger/freight movement under the direct and full control of the Rail Authority management/Board. 

While Security on the other hand will relate to issues such as:

Railway environment community relations; Stealing/ Pilfering/ Burglary/Theft Personal attacks/ Harassment within coaches and around corridor/ coaches

Kidnapping /Terrorism, 

Smuggling, Riots/Public disturbance/War situations/

Immigration and other related issues.

“From the above, the Nigerian Railway system or should we say the Nigerian Rail Transportation system has not been as challenged in recent times by securities-related issues except, for as a result of recent twin train terrorist attacks with kidnappings, killings and ransom demands. 

“The security aspect is managed by the Specialist security agencies, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) handled by a special Police Command headed by a Commissioner of Police rank Railway Police Command and the Nigeria Securities and Civil Defense Corporation (NSCDC). 

He cautioned the media, not to unduly create unnecessary panic or fear in the minds of the public via poor media reportage. 

“I am aware this is an open event and as such our media personnel needs to exercise some restrain in view of the current effort at repositioning our Rail system under the present administration at National and some sub-national with huge local and foreign investment in Rail infrastructure.

“Rail Transportation still remains the safest mode among Land Transport Modes.

“Let me at this point say that the situation in Nigeria is not that bad as it is similar to the situation in many African and developing countries.

 “Since 2002 and especially 2010 and 2016, we have improved and things changed for the better. Also because of our current level of operations, we face fewer risks as rail safety indices are often measured in Km travelled, Passenger moved, hours worked or in operations among others. In all, we ought to be better than where we are.

“Safety culture is critical and should be Top Management driven. Rail transportation safety and security is also about the quality and commitment of Top management as Rail safety measures are often very expensive with a Low Benefit-Cost ratio as a result of strong Institution, Legal and Political pressures. 

“Safety is a central issue that challenges decision-making during the planning and implementation of the modern-day railway systems, especially with the advent of High Speed Rail (HSR) and as such appropriate systems should be in place to ensure safe performance during operations.

“According to Hale in 2000, integrated safety approach to all modes of Transport, not just rail is necessary to gain the trust of the public and government.

“If it is perceived unsafe as with the Abuja-Kaduna line in recent time due to the twin attack society will choose not to use it, hence a waste of the infrastructure assets”, he also explained.

Taking a harder look at Rail Security, Opeifa stated:

“Experience of March 2022 has provided some opportunities. Let it be established that Terrorist attacks on transportation assets are not new nor limited to Nigeria as the sector and rail inclusive meet all the requirements of terrorist soft targets. Examples abound worldwide. 

“In addition to the ongoing efforts by the National government, FMOT and the Nigerian Railway Corporation as efforts are in top gear to not just resume the Abuja- Kaduna Rail line services but provide sustainable, secured and safer rail transportation services along all Rail corridors.

“We need to establish a National minimum security checklist for Rail operations in Nigeria.

“We need to be Proactive to provide Security systems based on modern technology taking advantage of innovations and Artificial intelligence. 

“We need to declare not just a Rail Transportation security system but a Transportation wide system as we move towards achieving an intermodal transportation system”, he observed, positing that since an attack on one, implies injuries to others; there must therefore be a regular safety review committee of top-level stakeholders with the office of the National security adviser.

“Beyond regular safety audits, we need to carry out regular Security audits of all Rail Infrastructure assets and systems to assure the passenger/freight, government, investors and relevant stakeholders.

“We need to encourage sharing of information among modes and between security operatives.

“We need to deepen on lesson learnt from the last twin terrorist attacks on the AKTS rail line as findings is key to preventing the next one.

“While deploying technology, we need serious engagement with host communities along rail infrastructure installation as part of our intelligence gathering system for a more secured corridor.

“We need to support the ongoing efforts of the National government, the FMOT, and NRC at resuming the AKTS Rail services, after the deployment of the appropriate security systems.

“In conclusion, we must adopt a Holistic General System, where safety and security are approached as the minimum standard of operation of the Rail Transportation sector just as we have done with the Air transportation sector. 

“We need National coordination with safety compliance information available freely and willingly by all operators and stakeholders on a monthly basis not just on request”, Dr. Opeifa also advised further.

Economy

LASG Issues Travel Advisory Ahead Of Students Rave Event

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LASG Issues Travel Advisory Ahead Of Students Rave Event

… Says traffic will be restricted between Police Zonal Headquarters, Zone 2 and Onikan Roundabout from 7:00 am*** 

The Lagos State Government has advised Motorists to plan their movement around Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Old Onikan Stadium, Lagos Island ahead of the Students Rave 2023 event scheduled for Friday, 27th January 2023.

As a result of the above rally, the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde disclosed that traffic will be restricted between Police Zonal Headquarters, Zone 2 and Onikan Roundabout from 7:00 am on the aforementioned day. He assured that Officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, (LASTMA) will be available to manage traffic flow.

Explaining the alternative routes, Oladeinde advises Motorists plying Island Club road by Police Headquarters Zone 2, Onikan to go through Ozumba Mbadiwe road inbound Falomo Bridge (Five Cowries Bridge) to link Alfred Rewane and Osborne road to complete their journeys.

In the same vein, Motorists from Bonny Camp according to the diversion plan can access CMS/Marina Bridge after Independence Bridge (Mekunwen Bridge) and loop it down towards Cathedral Church to connect Lagos Island proper through Odunlami Street for their desired destinations,

The Transport Commissioner also advises Motorists to utilize Force road beside Muson Centre to link J.K Randle Avenue (Race Course) or go through Onikan Roundabout to connect JK Randle Avenue/Water Board area to access CMS Bridge by the State House/Old NITEL Building.

He further explained that Water Board inbound Broad Street to Tinubu Square will be available to Motorists, adding that they can equally access Old Defense road/ Ganiyu Smith from Water Board to link Igbosere/Sandgrouse to Simpson Street and connect Third Mainland Bridge to continue their journeys to other parts of the State.

The Transport Commissioner reiterated that Security and Law Enforcement Agencies will be at all strategic junctions and intersections to ensure the safety and security of all road users and the free flow of traffic within the perimeter of the venue and alternative routes outside the venue.

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Health and Safety

Military Destroys 39 Illegal Refineries, Apprehends Oil Thieves; Niger Lifts Curfew on Lambata

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Military Destroys 39 Illegal Refineries, Apprehends Oil Thieves; Niger Lifts Curfew on Lambata

 Defence Headquarters says the troops of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, have in the last two weeks destroyed 39 illegal oil refining sites in the South-South zone.

The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Musa Danmadami made this known at a bi-weekly news briefing on military operations on Thursday, in Abuja.

Danmadami said the troops in the conduct of Operation Octopus Grip and other operations destroyed 48 cooking ovens, 103 storage tanks, 27 dugout pits and 33 wooden boats during the period.

He said the troops also recovered one tug boat, a barge, 3 pumping machines, three speedboats and 13 vehicles.

According to him, troops recovered 274,000 litres of crude oil, 71,000 litres of Automotive Gas Oil, and 15 Ak47 rifles, while 40 suspected economic saboteurs were arrested.

“All recovered items and apprehended suspects have been handed over to the appropriate authority for further action,” he said.

“Equally, the air component of Operation Delta Safe conducted air interdiction to several illegal refining sites and creeks at Gogokiri Degema and Okrika Local Government Areas both in Rivers State between Jan. 12 and Jan. 24.

“Crew observed the sites to be active makeshift tents sighted as well as illegal refining activities been carried out.

“Targets were engaged with weapons and the locations were observed to have exploded in an inferno while the illegal refining equipment were also destroyed,” he said.

In South East, defence spokesman said the military and other security agencies had sustained the offensive against the activities of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra/Eastern Security Network criminals in the zone.

He said the troops had neutralised six terrorists, arrested 24 and rescued 16 abducted civilians.

According to him, several calibres of arms and ammunition including AK47 rifles, pump action rifles, IEDs and locally made explosive pipes among other items were also recovered.

In another development, Gov.  Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger has directed the lifting of the curfew on Lambata town in Gurara Local Government Area of the state.

The directive is contained in a statement by the Secretary to the state Government, Mr Ahmed Matane in Minna on Thursday.

The governor had on Jan. 15 imposed from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. as a result of a violent clash that led to the killing of the village head of Lambata, Alhaji Muhammed Abdulsafur.

Matane explained that the lifting of the curfew would begin on Jan. 26.

He said that the curfew was lifted having reviewed the security situation and return of peace in Lambata town and environs.

He said that the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Ogundele Ayodeji had visited Lambata town and commenced investigation into the matter that led to the killing of the village head, stressing that arrests had also been made in connection with the violent clash.

Matane, however, urged the people of Lambata and the public to always be law-abiding and to remain peaceful with one another regardless of social, political or religious affiliations.

According to him, security agencies have been directed to ensure the safety of lives and property of the people of the area.

Matane noted that the governor thanked the residents of Lambata town for their understanding in complying with the curfew.

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crime

Adamawa Violent Crimes: Police arrest 208 suspects in January, Recover AK47 riffles, locally fabricated guns

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Adamawa Violent Crimes: Police arrest 208 suspects in January, Recover AK47 riffles, locally fabricated guns

The Police Command in Adamawa says it has arrested 208 suspects in connection with various crimes in the state.

The Commissioner of Police (CP) Sikiru Akande, disclosed this at a news conference in Yola on Thursday.

Akande disclosed that 108 of the suspects had already been charged in court.

He disclosed that the suspects were arrested in connection with suspected Kidnapping, armed robbery, cattle rustling and other violent crimes.

According to him, seven AK47 riffles, seven locally fabricated guns, generators, and televisions among other exhibits, were recovered.

“Early this year the command renewed its commitment and designed a security template to deliver on the mandate of the IGP Usman Alkali Baba to leave a deepened legacy of Democratic system and credible electoral process in the country.

“From Jan. 1st to date, the command operatives carried out tactical and intelligence-driven patrols, raiding of criminal hideouts, rescue operations, stop and search operations, community policing, and engagement of stakeholders among others.

“These operations yielded positive results and a total of 208 suspects were arrested in connection with kidnapping, armed robbery, cattle rustling and other violent crimes, out of which 108 suspects were charged to court.”

Akande commended the government and people of Adamawa for the support and cooperation rendered to the command that yielded the success recorded.

He gave assurance that all the suspects would be diligently prosecuted upon completion of investigation.

“Those at large will equally be traced and made to face the wrath of the law,” he said.

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