By Uche Amunike
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), has suspended some of its members of staff for collecting cash illegally from passengers aboard the Lagos-Ibadan Tran Service (LITS).
Recall that a viral video that showed some staff of the corporation, as they lured intending passengers to board the train at Obafemi Awolowo Train Station in Ibadan, going to Lagos without purchasing tickets, recently made the rounds.
According to a passenger who made the video go viral on her X handle, she stated that she paid 18,000 naira cash for five persons and that over 60 persons paid $3600 cash without being given tickets in Coach 7 of the train.
The Deputy Director of Public Relations of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Yakub Mahmood, has, however, stated that a thorough investigation was currently on-going on the matter. He however did not give the particular amount of staff members that were suspended.
He also released an official statement where he announced the suspension, maintaining that the conduct of the NRC staff is a ‘flagrant disobedience of laid down rules guiding the operations of the NRC and an utterly betrayal of the confidence reposed on such workers.’
He averred that the suspension of the workers was pending until the committee set up to investigate the matter discloses their findings..
The passenger, Daramola Adenike gave details in the viral post on X, how may passengers did not obtain tickets, even though the officials of the Nigerian Railway Corporation collected cash from them, while on transit.
According to her, the incident occurred on October 2, when she was heading back to Lagos with her friends after their weekend getaway in Ibadan.
Her words: ‘We arrived at the train station around 3:40 p.m. While we were walking to the entrance of Obafemi Awolowo Train Station Ibadan, a uniformed NRC official approached us.’
‘He asked if we had the tickets and I told him we were on our way to get tickets. He then asked how many we were and I told him that we were five. He told us to follow him. We were confident we could trust him because he was wearing a uniform and identified as a staff.’
‘My friends and I followed him thinking he was leading us to the ticket counter only for us to pass through screening and head towards the railway. I immediately told him that we do not have tickets to board the train but he said I shouldn’t worry that it would be sorted.’
‘He handed me over to another uniformed staff who led us to Coach 7. I told the lady the same thing that we do not have tickets and she said she was aware and it would be sorted.’
She further explained that the excuse given to them by the staff was that if they went together today to purchase the tickets, they would not be able to sit together. Then, a few minutes after the train started moving, they began to collect cash from people on Coach 7.
Mr Mahmoud, in his statement, assured that by the end of October, the corporation’s electronic ticketing system which is currently being deployed, would be available on both the Warri-Itakpe and Lagos-Ibadan Train Service. He counseled that passengers should insist on boarding tickets, after making due payments at the booking line, appropriately.
‘This unwholesome attitude and image dent to the corporation by any member of staff will not be tolerated nor treated with any levity’, he said.