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Inactive rail tracks give room for vandalism – Frank Mba

Spokesperson of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Frank Mba has stated that the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) needs to improve its investment in security to tackle vandalism.

This was stated on Monday by the PRO of the NPF when he featured as a guest on ‘Good Morning Nigeria’, a programme on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

Recently, the police have made several arrests in recent times of persons allegedly involved in vandalising rail tracks across the country.

Recall that the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi at a media briefing in July had stated that persons found culpable of vandalising of railway facilities should be charged with manslaughter.

Speaking on the NTA programme on Monday, Mba said such acts of vandalism are encouraged by the fact that some of the tracks are not currently in operation.

“This is not just a Nigerian issue. It also seems to be a global challenge. In South Africa, for example, at a time, 10 kilometres of rail track were vandalised. In fact, the cost to replace that was put at $2.3 million. This year alone, the South African transport ministry is budgeting 1.9 billion rand to put back their rail system that was vandalised, especially during the pandemic — during the sit-at-home,” he said.

“That gives credence to [the] position that when a rail line is idle, it gives room for vandalism. When a rail line is not in active use, that’s when a lot of vandalising, stealing, destruction take place. And to complicate matters, once the vandalism begins to take place, and it’s not quickly fixed, then you create more room for it to go on.

“The challenge for NRC is also for them to be perpetually vigilant. The earlier these things are fixed as soon as the theft takes place, the stronger deterrent you put in place to stop further vandalism on that track.

“Both the transport ministry and the railway corporation need to invest in security. Everywhere in the world, the best global practice is dual investment. As you invest in infrastructure, it doesn’t matter whether it’s transport, it doesn’t matter if it’s aviation, invest in the security and protection of that infrastructure.”

He also called for national reorientation to discourage criminal acts such as vandalism.

“Sometimes, when you see younger people vandalising or stealing public properties, it doesn’t matter to them. They just feel like ‘the politician next door has stolen so much; the local government chairman, the minister, the director had also stolen so much and I am just taking a bit out of the national cake.’ He or she does not even regard it as a criminal offence or something condemnable,” Mba said.

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