The much-awaited electronic ticketing solution has finally been deployed on the Lagos-Ibadan Train Service as well as Warri-Itakpe Train Service two years after the process was started, Daily Trust Saturday reports.
In November 2021, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) presented an Outline Business Case (OBC) certificate for the proposed electronic ticketing solutions for the two Train Services to the NRC.
The OBC certificate otherwise known as Certificate of Compliance implies that the planned Public Private Partnership (PPP) project for the e-ticketing solution is bankable and commercially viable.
The OBC presentation preceded the advertisement inviting prospective bidders for the design, build, operate and transfer for a secured e-ticketing solution for the Lagos-Ibadan and Warri-Itakpe standard gauge services.
And with the OBC, it was projected that the federal government would generate N12.4bn and N9.6bn on both train services in four years (2021-2025).
The projected revenue target has, however, been missed following the non-deployment of the e-ticketing, according to stakeholders and passengers who decried the revenue leakage occasioned from manual ticket sales.
A video recently went viral showing some staff members of the NRC collecting money from passengers on the Lagos-Ibadan Train Service without issuing tickets.
The issue generated mixed reactions on social media, forcing the NRC management to suspend the staff and subsequently terminate their appointment after the conclusion of the investigation.
However, with the deployment of e-ticketing, passengers say issues of ticket racketeering, short-changing of government in terms of remitting in-appropriate revenue would be a thing of the past.
Penultimate week, the Minister of Transportation, Senator Saidu Alkali, performed the launch of the electronic ticketing system. The ticketing system was a concession with two companies that will run the system for ten years.
The e-ticketing system allows passengers to make advance booking for any of the trips on the Lagos-Ibadan Train or Warri-Itakpe from the comfort of their phone. After confirming the booking, the passenger would only come to the train station where the ticket bar code would be scanned by the NRC staff to confirm the ticket for boarding.
Our correspondent who was at Babatunde Raji Fashola Train Station, Agege, observed the procedure by passengers heading to Ibadan who also hailed the new innovation, which they described as a welcome development.
It was, however, learnt that the option of paying at the counter and obtaining a ticket is still available for those who might not be technologically savvy or not disposed to the online booking system.
A prospective passenger can now conveniently go to the website of the NRC, create an account and book online ahead of a trip on any of the routes on the Lagos-Ibadan and Itakpe-Warri axis. Also, the e-ticketing app can be downloaded online for the purpose of booking.
Abiola Makinde, a train passenger who had used the electronic ticketing option, told our correspondent that the initiative is the way to go.
She explained that she initially experienced hitches booking online but it eventually went through.
She said, “For the online payment, it wasn’t delivering from the beginning when I wanted to pay. I tried to buy my ticket online. Eventually it went and I was able to buy the ticket. And it is okay. It is quite a good development; everything has been automated.
“It is much better than having the payment manually. It is a good development. I will only encourage the government to maintain this and make sure that it is well kept. We must ensure that the legacy does not go into extinction. It is not about starting it; it is about continuity. People should ensure they protect this monument. For the workers, sincerely they are accommodating. I will give it to them, they were so helpful.”
Another train passenger, Alhaji MJ Yusuf, also hailed the development. He said it was abnormal that the NRC could not deploy the e-ticketing from the beginning as done by the Lagos State Government on its newly launched light rail (Blue Line).
He said, “The e-ticketing is a very good improvement. I used this train to Ibadan last week and I had to pay with cash and I was wondering why can’t Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) learn from Lagos because you cannot use BRT or Lagos Light Rail without your Cowry Card? So, when I heard that by November, they would start e-ticketing, I was very happy.
“I will be going to Ibadan tomorrow; I just came to make my booking against tomorrow. I think that infrastructure wise, they have done well, I hope and pray that they will keep maintaining the standard they have set for themselves. I just hope that they will be able to keep this up.”
On her part, Similoluwa Adufe said e-ticketing is a good step in the right direction. “I think this is a very good step in the right direction. We need this e-ticketing for the service to be effective,” she stated.
She, however, hailed the architectural masterpiece of the train station as well as the entire infrastructure while calling for proper maintenance of the system.
“The environment, the structure and the comfort in place is something worth commending. I just hope we would be able to imbibe a maintenance culture to be able to make sure that all these things are well maintained and in case anything gets damaged, it is replaced and repaired immediately.
“I took the First-Class ticket. I just wish we can have something extra apart from the seat spacing. I think this is a good one.
“Instead of the train starting at 8 in the morning, we could have an earlier train as well. That way, the congestion in Lagos could be reduced. We would have people living in Ibadan and would be able to meet up with 8 or 9 o’clock work in the morning and we can also have a late train, maybe around 6 or 7. That way, we can also have people living in Abeokuta or Ibadan that would be working in Lagos. So, it is going to reduce the congestion we have in Lagos and I believe we would also be able to have an easy life which is actually what we intend to achieve in the first place. But we must not stop at this, we must keep getting better and we must also embrace new ideas when they come up.”
The Minister of Transportation who performed the launch assured Nigerians of the federal government’s commitment to ensuring safety of the travellers, while improving the nation’s internally generated revenue.
The new online ticket purchasing system is programmed to allow a registered passenger secure two additional tickets for other intending travellers, it was learnt.
Managing Director of the NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria, said in addition to stopping the ticket racketeering, the electronic ticketing solutions would help in improving revenue for the federal government.
“Right now, the e-ticketing platform is being put to test so that people can buy the ticket right from the comfort of their home. We are also moving from 24 hours to 48 hours which means you can buy a ticket 48 hours to your journey time and we are extending that to Abuja-Kaduna. Before, we gave them a window of 24 hours to utilize the ticket, now that our people are getting used to it, we want to ensure that we minimise the number of people coming to buy tickets manually. By that, we can minimise that window of people saying that our staff are being induced to collect money without issuing tickets.”
In a chat with our correspondent, the NRC District Manager for Lagos, Engr. Augustine Arisa, stated that despite the teething problems experienced at the beginning, the e-ticketing system has come to stay.
“This is getting better now. You can go online and purchase your ticket at your convenience. You can also download the e-ticketing app, click on it, pay online and pay the necessary charge. You can also come and buy over the counter.”