Ticket racketeering: Amaechi sacks station managers, porters
From Romanus Ugwu,Abuja
An angry Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday ordered the immediate sack of station managers, ticket sellers and porters at Idu and Rigasa train station over extortion and ticket racketeering rocking the Abuja-Kaduna railway line.
The affected officers allegedly extorting money from passengers on Business Class, had been under watch for the past six weeks following increasing complaints from passengers, it was learnt.
One of the porters, identified as Peter, was also arrested at the Idu rail station for ticket racketeering.
Frowning at the 100 per cent hike of the N1,500 fare by the porters and yet- to- be identified persons, the minister, who was on an inspection at Idu and Kubwa stations in Abuja, expressed hope that their sack would stop the menace and restore passengers’ confidence.
He also said the arrival of more coaches would help address the lingering issue of shortage of accommodation.
The minister said: “Passengers complained on social media and when I discovered that the complaints lasted over four weeks, it showed that it is not a lie and that is why I have come to check. I think the best thing to do is to remove the ticket sellers in Idu and Rigasa and also remove the station manager at Rigasa. The porter services should also go and those who they help to carry luggage should carry their luggage themselves. We would soon fix the elevator to make it easy for passengers to carry their luggage.”
On the status of the train, Amaechi said: “The fact that the train itself is dirty means you people are not doing the right thing because passengers complained on social media that the toilet is bad and they want me to fix it…The emphasis from the public is that we should concession it (railways) so that they can take over. When concessionaires put their own money, things would run well, because there would be multiple coaches and it would increase competition.”
Speaking on the scandal, the Manager of Abuja-Kaduna Train Service, Pascal Nnorli, said: “Those behind this act sometimes lie to passengers that there is no more ticket. This morning, I came as early as 5am and I disguised as a passenger, because they don’t know me and I called one of the porters by the name, Mr. Peter and I told him I wanted a first class ticket.
“After a while, he called one Abass who seemed to be their ringleader and he agreed to sell it for me at the rate of N3,000 as against the N1,000 as sold at the ticket office. At the end of the day, I gave him N3,000 to procure one for me and he did. Now that we have got him, he will take us to Abass who will help us with our investigation by telling us who gives him the ticket.”