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Bill to amend Nigerian Railway Corporation Act passes 2nd reading



The Senate has passed for second reading, a bill to amend the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Act.

This followed the presentation of the general principles of the Bill by the sponsor, Sen. Solomon Adeola (APC-Ogun) at plenary, in Abuja on Thursday.

Adeola in his lead debate said the bill was read for the first time on July 20, 2023.

He said the sought amendment NRC bill intended to include in the act insurance fee, thereby providing adequate insurance cover for passengers and goods against any damage that may occur while patronising the railway corporation.

He said in recent time, there has been resurgence in railway transportation in Nigeria due to the modernisation of the rail transport system in the country.

Adeola said from Abuja to Kaduna, Lagos to Ibadan and more recently Port-Harcourt to Aba, passengers board trains as alternative to other modes of transportation.

He said goods are also now being transported in bulk using trains.

The lawmaker, however, said a critical gap existed in the current rail system as a result of comprehensive insurance coverage for passengers and goods using the services of NRC.

“On March 28, 2022, dare devil bandits attack a train from Abuja to Kaduna at Katari in Kaduna State.

“The train derailed and damaged beyond heavily affecting the rail tracks, coaches and some passengers kidnapped exposed to trauma including about eight persons that lost their lives,” he said.

According to him, there was no insurance coverage of any kind for the passengers as the NRC act does not provide for such.

“It is worthy of note that most sectors of the transportation systems offer some form of insurance protection.

“On Nigerian roads, most commercial vehicles, like buses and taxis, are required by law to carry passenger liability insurance.

“This insurance offers financial compensation to passengers in case of accidents, injuries, or even death,” he argued.

Adeola said a glaring gap existed as there was a lack of mandatory insurance for train passengers on the NRC services.

He said a robust insurance scheme would enable the NRC to prioritise safety measures.

“Knowing passengers and cargo are insured could lead to improved service delivery.

“This, in turn, will boost confidence in the railway system, potentially attracting more passengers and cargo volume for the NRC,” Adeola said.

He urged lawmakers to support the second reading of the bill.

Deputy President of Senate, Barau Jibrin (APC-Kano) who presided over the plenary commended the sponsor of the bill.

He expressed hope that the President Bola Tinubu would assent to the bill in line with international best practices on rail transportation when finally passed.

Barau consequently referred the bill to the Committee on Land Transport for further legislative inputs and to report back to plenary in four weeks.

Kingsley Okoye

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