By Uche Amunike
Passengers who have enjoyed the ease that come with railway transportation are currently groaning under the strain caused by the present railway workers strike that kicked off, Thursday.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC)under the umbrella of the Nigerian Union of Railway Workers vowed to stop every train operation all over the country including services on the popular Lagos-badan, Abuja-Kaduna and Warri-Itakpe routes, starting Thursday.
The railway workers strike will affect notable routes like Lagos- Kano, Aba-Port Harcourt and Kano-Unguru, where thousands of railway passengers that are sure to be stranded at stations spread over the country while a revenue mark of N90m is expected to be lost to the three-day strike.
Recall that last week, an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had made threats about going on a three-day nationwide warning strike from November 18 to November 20 in order to bring the government’s attention to their demands for improved welfare.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, however made attempts to advance the strike by holding a meeting in Lagos, Saturday with the Union. Sadly, the meeting ended in a deadlock.
During his interview with newsmen over the railway workers strike, the NUR President General, Ajiji confirmed that it had not being shelved but pleaded that all railway workers should down tool as from 12am, Thursday.
Government officials also tried serving a court injunction on the NUR, in order to forestall the railway workers strike, but they found it hard locating the railway union leaders on Wednesday as the key Union officials went underground throughout the day.
On their part, the Union leaders submitted that a court injunction will not, in any way, solve the problem of the planned strike.
The NUR President-General expressed their disappointment at the action of the Nigerian government to attempt to serve them with a Court injunction.
Hear him:’ “We are going ahead with the strike on Thursday. They have been trying to get us to serve us a court injunction. That is the kind of government we have in place now. However, we’ve not been served and so by early hours of Thursday morning our strike commences’, Ajiji stated.
He added that the workers were 11,000 in number and that all 11,000 workers will partake in the railway workers strike action.
He reiterated that the strike would affect all the rail stations in the country and that all their offices will be shut down.
He stressed that apart from workers that operate the train movements, the local workshop workers, tracks men and administrative department will all be closed down.
He further stated that the rail sector makes N360m monthly, as they generate over N30m naira daily.
He explained that the drop in revenue that will be brought about by the strike is not the issue. Rather, their only demand is that the government listens to them and make life better for them.
Ajiji also said that the Minister has continued to remain quiet after their Saturday meeting that was deadlocked and that they will be at the stations as from 6am on Thursday to stop the train from moving, since the first train from Abuja moves by 7am.
When approached, the Federal Ministry of Transportation spokesperson, Eric Ojekwe declined speaking on the matter, just as the spokesperson for NRC, Yakub Mahmood also declined making any comments when contacted.