Bill to amend Nigerian Railway Corporation Act passes second reading

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A bill for an Act to amend the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Act to make provision for insurance for passengers and goods has passed second

By Haruna Salami

A bill for an Act to amend the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Act to make provision for insurance for passengers and goods has passed second reading in the Senate on Thursday.

This followed the presentation of the general principles of the Bill by the sponsor, Senator Solomon Adeola (Ogun West).

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He said the bill sought to amend the NRC Act to include insurance fee, thereby providing adequate insurance cover for passengers and goods against any damage that may occur while transacting with the railway corporation.

According to him, there has been a resurgence in railway transportation in Nigeria in recent time with the modernisation of the rail system across the country.

He said from Abuja to Kaduna, Lagos to Ibadan and more recently Port-Harcourt to Aba, passengers board trains as alternative to other modes of transportation.

He said goods in bulk are also now being transported by trains on the nation’s rail tracks.

He, however, said a critical gap exists in the current rail system, and a lack of comprehensive insurance coverage for passengers and goods using the services of NRC.

“On March 28, 2022, dare devil bandits attacked a train service from Abuja to Kaduna at Katari in Kaduna State.

“The train derailed and beyond the damage to the rail tracks, coaches and trauma of eventual kidnap of some passengers, about eight persons lost their lives including”.

According to him, there is no insurance coverage of any kind for the passengers as the NRC act does not provide for such.

“It is worthy of note that most sectors of the transportation systems offer some form of insurance protection.

“On Nigerian roads, most commercial vehicles, like buses and taxis, are required by law to carry passenger liability insurance.

“This insurance offers financial compensation to passengers in case of accidents, injuries, or even death.”

The Ogun senator noted that a glaring gap exists as there was a lack of mandatory insurance for train passengers on the NRC services adding that “a robust insurance scheme would incentivize the NRC to prioritize safety measures.

“Knowing passengers and cargo are insured could lead to improved service delivery.

“This, in turn, could boost confidence in the railway system, potentially attracting more passengers and cargo volume for the NRC.”

Deputy President of Senate, Barau Jibrin (Kano North) who presided plenary commended the sponsor of the bill and expressed hope that the President Bola Tinubu would assent to the bill in line with international best practices on rail transportation when finally passed.

Barau consequently referred the bill to Committee on Land Transport for further legislative inputs and to report back to plenary in four weeks.

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