Abuja-Kaduna Train: Trouble Looms Over NRC’s Silence On 7 Kidnapped Railway Staf
There is uneasy calm at the headquarters of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) following persistent silence by the management of the Corporation over the fate that has befallen seven kidnapped railway workers who were working onboard the Abuja-Kaduna train before it came under explosive attack by a terrorist in Kaduna.
When Tribune Online visited the NRC headquarters at the weekend, some of the workers were seen discussing in groups, lamenting that the management has been issuing statements giving details of rescued passengers and missing passengers but not saying a word about the seven workers who were kidnapped by terrorists on the ill-fated train.
According to some of the workers who spoke under condition of anonymity, “It is worrying that we have not heard a word about seven of our colleagues who were kidnapped even though the NRC has been issuing statements giving updates on affected passengers.
“There were fifteen railway workers onboard that ill-fated train. Seven of the workers were kidnapped, one was killed and another seven made it safely out of the train. Among the seven kidnapped railway workers are an electrician and a Loco Driver. The name of the kidnapped Loco Driver is Danni Abdullahi while the name of the Railway Electrician is Mr Goni.
“The other five kidnapped railway workers are Usman Abdullahi, Mary Kefas, Imam Sanni Aliyu, Jesy (surname unavailable) and Anna (surname also unavailable). The only worker that died during the attack is Ishaya Lorita. All these people were part of the fifteen man crew working onboard the train before it was attacked. The management has not said a word about these workers. Even the Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NURW) that is supposed to be protecting workers’ interests has been silent on the fate of the kidnapped workers.
“We are giving the Union till the closing of work on Monday before we will let the whole world know what we workers are going through in this difficult moment.”
When contacted, the President-General of the NURW, Comrade Innocent Ajiji confirmed that seven workers were actually kidnapped during the bombing of the Abuja-Kaduna train. He also confirmed that the Union is angry with the NRC management for keeping quiet on the fate of the abducted workers. He however stated that out of the seven workers, two were staff of the NRC while five were contract staff.
In the words of Comrade Ajiji, “Yes, seven workers were kidnapped on the Abuja-Kaduna train that was bombed last Monday. However, out of the seven kidnapped workers, only two are our members because they are railway workers. Those two are the Loco Driver, Mr Danni Abdullahi and the Railway Electrician, Mr Goni.
“Others are contract staff. Even the lady that was killed during the attack, Ishaya Lorita was a contract worker.
“However, we are very disappointed with the NRC management over its handling of activities since the attack occurred last Monday. None of the families of the abducted workers has been contacted by the NRC management. All the statement issued by the NRC since the attack has centered more on affected passengers and re-railing efforts. Nobody is saying a thing about the abducted workers. Are the workers not human beings?
“We are having a showdown meeting with NRC management tomorrow and will brief the media on our next line of action after tomorrow’s meeting.”
Meanwhile, the NRC in its continued efforts to update the general public on rail restoration efforts and rescue efforts disclosed late Saturday evening that two more passengers have been contacted, thereby bringing the total number of passengers contacted safe to 172 out of the 362 passengers on board the train. The Corporation however noted that the confirmed missing passengers still stand at 21, meaning 169 passengers remain at large.
In a statement signed very late on Saturday by the NRC Managing Director, Engineer Fidet Okhira, “The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) finds it incumbent to continue to update the general public on latest findings regarding the unfortunate incident of bandit attack on AK-9 of Monday 28th March 2022 and efforts at restoring the service.
“From the last Press Release, we confirmed that four numbers of Coaches (SP 00004, SP00009, SP00012 and SP00013) out of the 11 Coaches involved in the incident have been re-railed and safely moved to our Rigasa Station while work is ongoing on track repairs. We did also stated that 170 of the Passengers on-board the train are safe while 21 Passengers are reported missing.
“At the end of work on Saturday evening (02/04/2022) the NRC’s restoration team has further re-railed four more Coaches and two of the coaches (SP 00007 and SP 00013) had been safely moved to Idu and Rigasa Stations respectively. The other two Coaches are still at the site due to damaged tracks. This brings the total Coaches so far re-railed to seven with only five successfully moved to the Stations. “However, efforts are on to link the track. At the moment, a total of 80 meters of the affected section has been fixed including the replacement of affected Sleepers and twisted rails.
“The Corporation also confirms updates that a total of 172 (additional 2 persons answered their call today) passengers on board the AK9 are safe and okay while 21 Passengers are still reported missing. Let us assure our esteem passengers that the Corporation in collaboration with the Security agencies will leave no stone unturned in our efforts at rescuing the missing persons.
“Once again, the Corporation deeply condoles with those who lost loved ones and pray for the repose of the lost souls. We equally sincerely sympathise and empathise with our injured Passengers and indeed everyone on board the AK9 train of Monday 28th March, 2022 for the trauma this unfortunate incident has caused you.”
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