Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Angry Commuters Burn Railway Corporation Office In Ogun

There was pandemonium at the Nigerian Railway Corporation stations in the Agbado and Itoki areas of Ogun State on Tuesday as some passengers and hoodlums set fire on the offices after vandalising them and carting away some amount of money.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the uproar, which began at about 7am when passengers were boarding trains, was over a hike in the fares.
Our correspondent learnt that the fare to Oshodi for the economic class shot up from N150 to N230, while the executive class went from N500 to N750.

The Vice President, Alhaji Namadi Sambo, had come to Lagos on Monday to inaugurate two new air-conditioned coaches at the Iddo Terminus. The new trains were expected to increase the daily train passengers in the state from 16,000 to 22,000.
However, on Tuesday, being the first day after the inauguration, it was learnt that the NRC officials effected an increase in the fares which got the passengers angry and led to the vandalisation.

By 10.30am at the Agbado Railway Station, our correspondent observed that doors and windows of the
offices were destroyed, while the sliding glasses were broken into pieces.
Also, several tyres were burnt along the rail line, while the smoke of the fire was still billowing as of the time of visit.
One of the NRC officials, who craved anonymity because he was not authorised to speak, explained that some hoodlums took over the protest of passengers, while the police could not curtail them.

He said, “The cause of this destruction is over the fares. Unfortunately, instead of lodging their complaints to the authorities, some passengers, who were assisted by thugs, started breaking into our offices. They further destroyed property, carting away tickets and cash in the process.
“The sad thing is that the protesting passengers are those who usually hang on the coaches. They do not pay the fares. They were preventing people who want to pay from doing so. The new coaches are air-conditioned, and they were introduced yesterday. Passengers should expect that this would affect the fares.”

Another NRC official alleged that women traders, who sell alcoholic drinks and hard drugs around the station, also aided the attack by harbouring the hoodlums in their shops.
Our correspondent also observed that some passengers were stranded and sat in groups by their loads as of the time of visit.
One of them, who identified himself simply as Mr. Adewumi, said it was when the police showed up that the hoodlums fled.

“We did not see any train to board because everywhere was boiling. Although, they did not attack any NRC official, they destroyed their property,” he said.
When our correspondent got to neighbouring Itoki Railway Station, the place was deserted while the flame of the ticketing office that was burnt by the hoodlums was still billowing. Shop owners and residents around the station had also fled because the police were raiding the area.

An NRC official in Itoki showed our correspondent the station’s generator that was burnt along with other gadgets.
Despite the rainfall in the area, the Itoki ticketing office was still burning when our correspondent left the station by 12.25pm.
The Public Relations Officer of the NRC, Lagos District, Mr. Ademuyiwa Adekanmbi, told our correspondent that 120 suspected hoodlums had been arrested.

Source: The Punch

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