The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has insisted that no Nigerian is being extorted to board the free train rides declared by the Federal Government.
Daily Trust reports that many Nigerians have been enjoying the free train rides declared by the Federal Government on Friday as announced by the NRC.
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The gesture, according to the corporation, was to enable Nigerians celebrate the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Checks at the train stations in Lagos on Friday indicated that the many Nigerians were excited about the free train rides. The gesture covers all train networks across the country including the Abuja-Kaduna train service, Lagos-Ibadan train service, Warri-Itakpe, among others.
However, the NRC dismissed an online report to the effect that some officials of the corporation compromised by selling tickets to the people even at exorbitant rates.
Spokesman of the corporation, Mr. Mahmood Yakub in a chat with our correspondent said there was no iota of truth in the report that the tickets were being sold.
In addition, he said it was wrong for any passenger to pay for the ticket when it has been publicly announced that the services are free nationwide until January 4, 2022.
“So the report is not true. How can somebody pay for it when it was announced to the whole world that the service is free across the country. Those using the train especially in Abuja-Kaduna axis are highly placed people, very enlightened and they could not have paid to buy the ticket.
“The report we have since we started the free ride is that people are happy about it and it has made more people to travel. Everybody has been praising the federal government for the gesture and they even want this to continue. They don’t want it to be a one-off thing. They want it incorporated in our national calendar which should be done annually.
“So how can you now say that people paid for it? This is not true in anyway.”
He said the announcement by the Federal Government has also prompted the Lagos State Government to declare free BRT buses for Lagosians during this Christmas celebration.
The NRC Director of Operations, Mr. Niyi Ali told our correspondent that there was no official report of any ticket sold out to passengers, saying anyone caught selling tickets would be arrested.
So if anybody is caught, that is a different ball game. If anybody asks for money, they should report it. It is free nationwide.
“What I see since we started is that our trains are all full. That means there has been a lot of patronage and I have not gotten any official complaint about anybody buying ticket. Why will you do it when you know it is free? If we hear that anybody pays, we will investing and anybody found culpable would be disciplined.
“I have personally been going around to ensure that everything is done in an orderly manner. We don’t want people rushing because what we heard at first was people rushing. So we had to organise people to wait for their turn, it’s first come, first served. There is limited capacity and there is no hoarding of tickets.”