Three months into the commencement of the electronic ticketing for the Abuja–Kaduna railway transport, passengers, especially on the Kaduna axis, have continued to lament the difficulty in accessing the online platform.
Not much complaint came from passengers on the Abuja axis, as they could easily buy at Idu or Kubwa train station if they were unable to buy online.
But the situation is different for passengers on the Kaduna axis, as many of them, who were unable to buy the ticket online, had to arrive at the station three hours before the schedule to buy tickets over the counter.
This is because of the crowd that usually besieged the early morning train that is the 6.45 a.m. and the 10.45 a.m.
Many of the passengers lamented that they had to bribe some of the ticketing officials with amounts between N200 and N500 to get on the train.
A passenger told The Guardian that he had to pay N3,000 for the train ride from Kaduna to Abuja, instead of an N2,600 official ticket.
Another passenger, Lola Amihere, said she spent over four hours at the Rigasa train station because she refused to give touts N400 but insisted on buying the ticket herself.
She narrated: “I got to the station around noon, with the hope of getting on the 2 p.m. train. The crowd was so much. By the time it was my turn. I was told the ticket had finished unless I could pay N5,000 for the VIP coach. Since I didn’t have enough money on me, I had to wait for the 6 p.m. train.”
The visibly angry passenger urged the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to perfect its online platform to prevent passengers from going through such a harrowing experience.
The Director of the African Railway Roundtable, Mr. Olawale Rasheed, said that investigations confirmed ticket racketeering at the stations.
He added: “It is clearly impossible for outsiders to create such an institutional racket without the active connivance of the operators.”
Urging the ministry to query the operators and sanction culprits, he canvassed decisive action against black market practice, which is destroying the whole essence of introduction and investment in the e-ticketing system.
“If something urgent is not done, the dream of repaying the loan may be a mirage,” he added.
However, the Managing Director of NRC, Fidelis Okhiria, told The Guardian that “passengers don’t have to go to the stations” to buy tickets.
“You can stay in the comfort of your home and buy tickets,” he stated.
Okhiria said passengers having difficulty buying tickets online could call the customer service number on the online platform to guide them on ticket purchases.
According to him, the online platform does not allow multiple purchases of tickets, to avoid issues of ticket hoarding.