Charge Rail Vandals for Manslaughter — Amaechi
Nigeria’s minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has recommended a charge of manslaughter for the perpetrators of railway facilities vandalisation.
He said this on Friday during the ministerial media briefing organised by the presidential communications team at the presidential villa.
According to him, applying stringent laws will curb the habit, adding that the act can cause train derailment and killing of unsuspecting passengers.
He lamented that railway clips are frequently stolen, causing the country huge amounts of hard currency to replace.
According to him, “That’s why I say to Nigerians that if I were to be a lawmaker, I’ll be recommending manslaughter charge against those who engage in vandalisation of rail tracks.
“The reason is that it takes about 800 metres for a locomotive to stop. As it’s running now, it is running with speed. The moment it wants to stop, the driver will apply break here and it will take 800 metres to stop.
“So, how will the driver know that you have removed or vandalised a track 800m away? He will not know until it gets to the track.
“So, when it gets to the track, what happens? He applies break. But he needs 800m to stop. So, once it gets to that track that has been vandalised, he will derail. Once it derails, some people may die.
“Each coach takes 85 persons. And we are talking about 14, 20 coaches. You can imagine the number of people that will die as a result of that derailment.
“This is just because one selfish Nigerian is trying to steal track to make money. I think like other countries, I’m not saying that they should be killed because there’s poverty. But I’m saying they should be charged for mass manslaughter because people will die.
“But again, they will tell you that manslaughter means that somebody died. If anybody dies, they should be charged for manslaughter. If nobody dies, they should be charged for stealing. That’s my view.
“I say that because when they were stealing the narrow gauge, the one from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, I wasn’t worried. Whether we like it or not, we will replace it. That is the contract. But they move from stealing narrow gauge from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri to stealing narrow gauge from Lagos to Kano.
“We are looking for possible company under Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement that will take over that. If they take over, we will remove the old track and replace it with new ones.
“But when they now move to Itakpe-Warri, which is now standard gauge, brand new tracks, then it becomes very dangerous. A poor man from Warri who is going to Itakpe by 6 o’clock train does not know that his train will derail because somebody has cut off the track. That is dangerous.
‘And I think that the solution is exactly what the government is doing now about insecurity.”
He said : “You see, I have always say that if you enforce the law, Nigerians will obey.
“Now, you are feeling a bit of security. Now, you can drive around and feel a bit secure more than before. It is because the government has said that this joke has to stop. The joke has started stopping. Is it not? That is what Nigerians like to hear. That is the way I governed Rivers State. When the person knows that there is law and as an elected governor, I will enforce the law.
“So, if the law means to shoot my brother, I will shoot him. That is what the law says. Since you see the security agencies enforcing the law, everyone is now behaving well.
“So, if we enforce the law on the vandalisation of tracks, it will stop. And I have asked the Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRA) about their police. He said they were enough.
“I will meet the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to give us enough men and materials so that we can use them to police the tracks.
“Having moved from narrow gauge to standard gauge, it has become a national security issue because it’s a daily movement, involving three, four, five to six trips a day.”
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