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Senate seeks maximum punishment for rail line vandals

The senate has asked the federal government and security agencies to ensure that those who are caught vandalising rail lines across the country are given maximum punishment without the option of a fine.

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The lawmakers also asked the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to engage the services of local security guards who will be deployed to the railway lines in the country.

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The resolutions of the upper legislative chamber follow the destruction of tracks on the Itakpe-Warri rail line last week.

The senate’s decision is also sequel to a motion sponsored by Abdulfatai Buhari, senator representing Oyo north.

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While moving the motion on Wednesday, Buhari said the destruction of the tracks will not only adversely affect the economy, but cause accidents.

“The Warri-Itakpe standard gauge rail line was commissioned by President Mohammadu Buhari on 23rd September, 2020, with freight services further commissioned on 16th April, 2021,” he said.

“The rail transport system is the most cost effective, affordable, energy saving and environmentally friendly form of transportation.

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“The economic level of traffic can be consolidated to enable the railway to provide efficient services for high density flows of homogenous traffic over relatively long distance, particularly the high volumes of containerised cargo or bulk freight such as oil and gas, coal, steel or agricultural products.

“Recently some unscrupulous persons damaged, vandalised and maliciously cut some portions of the newly constructed Warri-Itakpe rail line at about kilometre 30 in Adogo, Kogi state.

“In Niger state, the Nigerian Police Force intercepted trucks loaded with rail tracks and pieces of rail sleepers along Kataeregi-Minna road.

“The newly completed Lagos-Ibadan rail line was vandalised in 2019 where clips, bolts and knots of the rail tracks were carted away.

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“Same incident of theft of rail clips that hold the sleepers and rail together happened in Zaria, Kaduna state, even as it would be recalled that in May this year, a train loaded with water pipes from Lagos to Zaria derailed along Kanawa axis, opposite Sultan Bello mosque in Kaduna due to vandals’ activities.”

On his part, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said there is a need to set examples to deter other persons from such actions.

“This is criminal and we must take interest in those that were caught. We need to follow the trial of the prosecution. We borrowed money to build these rail lines in order to increase the level of infrastructure in our country,” he said.

“We must be interested in what happens to these people because our courts also have problems. There must be a visible example.”

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The motion was adopted after it was put to a voice vote by Lawan.

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