Insecurity drives 126% decline in rail transport

Attacks on trains conveying passengers and rail infrastructure is taking a toll on Nigeria’s rail sector, which has recorded a decline of 125.6 percent in passenger movement in the second quarter of 2022, the National Bureau of Statistics’ Rail Transportation data has shown.

According to the NBS, a total of 422,393 passengers travelled by train in Q2 2022, compared to 953,099 recorded in Q1 2022, a decline of 125.6 percent.

“It is foolishness to continue to build infrastructure when the security of lives is in jeopardy,” Samuel Odewumi, a professor and former dean, Lagos State University School of Transport and Logistics said.

The revenue generated from passengers decreased by 76.2 percent, from N2.1 billion in the first quarter of 2022 to N500 million in Q2, while revenue generated from goods increased by 19.84 percent to N86.01 million. In 2021, N1.08 billion was generated from passengers in the second quarter, which is now less than half in 2022.

A further breakdown shows that the nation’s rail system moved 748,345 passengers in 2019, reducing in 2020, to 108,238 thousand passengers as a result of the pandemic, and then an increase in 2021 to 565,385 passengers.

Obvious reasons are linked to the alarming insecurity issues in the country, where people are kidnapped.

Recall that it was in the first quarter of 2022 that the Kaduna train kidnapping occurred. The incident took place on March 28, at the tail end of the first quarter. Although the last set of the kidnapped victims from that train attack were released on October 5 after months in captivity, the issue of insecurity still plagues the rail transport industry.

According to SBM Intelligence, between July 2021 and June 2022, no fewer than 3,420 people were abducted across Nigeria, with 564 others killed in violence associated with abductions.

“If we can’t pay back the loan taken to build this railway, it implies that it will become a large debt because the primary reason for borrowing to develop infrastructure is to get the money back, and the belief that it will generate income is in peril, so we are piling up debt,” Odewumi said.

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The NBS’ data also showed that revenue described as other income receipts in Q2 2022 stood at N49.73 million, lower than the N57.92 million recorded in the previous quarter. On the other hand, cargo revenue declined from N131.27 million in 2019 to no revenue recorded in 2020. But with the gradual recovery of the economy, 14.3 percent was recorded between Q2 of 2021 of N75.22 million to N86.01 million in Q2 2022.

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