The Abuja branch of railway operators have ignored the Nigerian Government’s directive to give free train rides for the Yuletide season, as they have continued to sell tickets at exorbitant prices to passengers.
Operators at the Idu Train Terminal reportedly sold out tickets to passengers aboard the Abuja-Kaduna train at the rate of N12,000 in the early hours of Saturday, and N8, 000 on Friday evening for ordinary train tickets which cost about N2,000 normally.
“This morning on Christmas Day, corrupt railway officials are still selling ‘FG Free Train Tickets’ at IDU Train Station in Abuja as high as N12K for Nigerians. Obviously, the Ministry of Transportation and NRA aren’t doing enough to curb this inhuman act,” Deji Adesogan, a notable political commentator on Twitter said.
Mr Adesogan also noted that the travelers who had relied on the means of travelling “massively” purchased the tickets.
Fidet Okhiria, the MD of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) had announced free train rides around the country from Friday December 24 to January 4, 2022.
He had advised passengers to obtain tickets from appropriate quarters at no cost.
The decision, he said, was in collaboration with the Transportation Ministry to ease the movement and cost of transportation for citizens during the yuletide.
But another Twitter user, @Bizzylyks, also claimed that passengers paid N8,000 for the ticket as of Friday evening.
“My aunt’s child and some of their mates went for a football trial in Abuja, they paid for tickets today, they suffered before they even got the ticket for 06:00 pm. I even informed them that it’s free today,” he wrote as of 08:50 p.m. on Friday.
Another user, Maclams wrote “Abuja to Kaduna Train ticket is 8,000 naira. State of the country! My sis came in today and some other friends and that’s what it cost them.”
Meanwhile, Okhiria told Gazette that the Government had declared free train rides during the yuletide, and advised passengers to report railway staff to the appropriate authorities when they are charged for boarding trains during the Yuletide.
“If any staff is charging anybody for boarding the train now that it is free, they should hold that staff and report them to the police, passengers should go online to buy their tickets,” he said.
Users confirmed that passengers from Lagos to Ibadan were not charged for boarding the train.
“Here in Lagos, we boarded without paying anything. Security operatives and NRC officials were going around to ensure no one extorted secretly,” a user, Adetola Adelu wrote on the platform.