The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has suspended indefinitely the Abuja –Kaduna train services, after an attack on the rail corridor by unknown gunmen.
The NRC, in a statement on its website Thursday, said the services were suspended for the safety of passengers and crew members.
According to the corporation, efforts were being put in place to ensure absolute safety along the route.
It added that further information concerning the suspension will be conveyed to the public shortly.
The Managing Director of the NRC, Mr. Fidet Okhiria, while speaking to newsmen, confirmed the attack even as he explained that the explosives damaged the rail tracks somewhere between Dutse and Rijana.
According to him, “Unidentified persons detonate explosives on Abuja-Kaduna rail track, disrupt services, yes, there was an explosive on our rail track somewhere around Rijana and Dutse last night, and this damaged the tracks.
“Efforts are currently ongoing to ensure that the train services along the Kaduna-Abuja route are fully restored.”
When asked if there were gunshots aimed at the train driver and the tank of the train, the NRC MD said: “There was nothing like that. Only an explosive that went up on the track.
“Are you aware that we even ran a train service this morning? There was nothing like shooting or the train by bandits. Efforts are currently ongoing to ensure full train services are restored along that route.”
But, it was gathered that the Abuja-Kaduna train developed fault about 40 kilometres into Kaduna after taking off from Idu terminal station at 6pm on Wednesday, and left passengers stranded for about six hours.
The train reportedly developed fault around 8pm following a loud sound from the engine that caused the train to stop abruptly.
One of the passengers, Garba Muhammad, who is the Regional Editor of News Express, said: “We heard a loud sound from the locomotive engine, then the train gradually came to abrupt halt.”
He said there was pandemonium in the train after security men attached to VIP coaches shouted for all to take cover, adding that the lights and the air conditioning systems went off, leaving passengers in heat and darkness.
“Policemen in the VIP coaches shouted to us to get down when we heard the loud bang. We all fell over each other, while some ran to other coaches, thinking that the train was under attack,” Lawal Isah, one of the passengers, said.
Muhammad said that after being stranded in the bush for hours with palpable fears of being attacked by the bandits, another engine came around 12:15am and pushed the immobilised train to Rigasa, Kaduna.
“Though it was a short distance, it took them another two hours with frequent stops and slow movements,” he said.
The NRC MD however promised to keep the public updated on the cause of the explosion.
The corporation had on Monday hinted that it would reduce the number of trips on the Abuja-Kaduna route from 19th – 21st October, 2021 to carry out schedule maintenance.
Okhiria had explained that the reduction in the number of trips was to carry out scheduled maintenance.
According to him, “We are withdrawing the Diesel Multiple Units (DMU) from Tuesday 19th -Thursday 21st October, 2021 for scheduled maintenance.”