By Dr Kayode Opeifa
A Paper Presented at the 4th National Transport Summit of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration in Nigeria
Theme: Transportation Safety and Security Administration in Nigeria
30th of November, 2022
At the Shehu Musa Yar’ Adua Centre, Abuja
The Nigeria Rail Transportation System pioneered the rapid opening of the geographical area called Nigeria.
The railway act of 1955 (as amended 2004) mandates the Corporation to develop National Rail Infrastructure and Operate Rail service on both the Narrow- and Standard-gauge rail lines. In view of the above, the Federal government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of transportation has embarked upon a public service obligation of revamping the Nigerian Railway transportation system with the aim of providing safe, secure, efficient, reliable and high-quality Train services.
Transportation infrastructure in an economy is perhaps the most fundamental developmental initiative to ensure mass transit and heavy-duty freight movement across the country; this explains the Federal Governments strong commitment to revamping and sustaining the drive for a better and sustainable rail service delivery to its populace,
The Nigeria Railway Corporation is about 124 years old (1898 to 2022), and in this period Nigeria has built:
1. 3,505 km network of narrow gauge (NG) rail lines.
2. 186 Km network of Standard Gauge (SG) rail lines linking Abuja to Rigasa in Kaduna. (operations started 2016)
3. 302 Km network of Standard Gauge (SG) rail lines from Itakpe to Warri (2020)
4. Additional 156.5 Km Double SG Lagos to Ibadan Rail line with extension (6.5km) to Apapa Sea Port (2020).
5. Other Standard gauge rail lines under various levels of implementation and procurement include: –
i. Ibadan to Kano, Kano – Kazaure – Daura – Katsina – Jibiya to link Maradi in Niger Republic.
ii. Port Harcourt-Aba-Enugu- Makurdi-Jos-Bauchi-Gombe-Maiduguri.
iii. Lagos-Ijebu Ode-Benin-Yenegoa-Port Harcourt-Aba-Uyo-Calabar.
In line with the mandate, the Federal Government has commissioned NRC’s two (2) Standard Gauge rail lines on the Lagos Ibadan route (LITS) which runs between Ebute-Metta in Lagos State to Ibadan in Oyo State. AKTS runs from IDU-Rigassa (Kaduna State). To recommence shortly after atlack. Warri Itakpe Train Service (WITS), which runs between Ujevwu in Delta State to Itakpe in Kogi State. The narrow-gauge rail lines consist of the Western line which runs from Lagos (Iddo) to Kano, and the Eastern line which runs from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
The desire of the federal Government to revamp the rail sector and make it a major player in the transportation sector is seen in its various policy documents which include the following:
1. The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), 2017-2020
2. Bouncing Back: Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan, 2020
3. FGN National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, 2015
4. FMT 25-Year Strategic Vision Plan for the Nigerian Railway
5. FGN 2020-2022 MTEF/FSP Framework
Over the years, it’s been a mix of private, International, National and sub-National government in varying forms.
As of date, we have about 4,174+km consisting of about 3505km of Narrow gauge and about 800km of standard gauge.
1. NRC Network
2. Abuja Light rail System
3. Calabar Monorail system
4. Rivers Monorail system in Port Hacourt
5. Upcoming Lagos rail Mass Transit system
We are also hearing of
6. Kaduna State and Niger state foray into the Nigerian Railway Transportation system, hopefully.
The Nigeria 25 years Rail Modernisation Master Plan and the Nigerian Rail Transportation System
The Policy and implementation document was unveiled in July 2002 as a vehicle for the delivery of Sustainable economic growth (GDP contribution and Jobs creation), Social harmony (linking people and places), and Political stability (extensive connectivity without borders).
In my own words;
i. Link people to Jobs
ii. Deliver products to the market
iii. Underpin supply chains and logistics
iv. Support domestic and international trade
v. Support tourism
vi. Support urban and rural economic goals
vii. Reduce poverty (by improving mobility)
viii. Improve quality of life (reduce congestion, reduce pollutions etc.)
The document comes in 3 Phases:
System Transition 2002- 2007
System Modernisation 2002-2015
System Stability 2016-2027
It recommends short, medium and long-term action plans to implement the “vision’, including strategies of implementation at the different phases.
Let me at this point call attention of the Honorable Minister of Transport to an urgent need to set up a strong technical committee to review the implementation of this fantastic and excellent document with a view to updating it as it seems the implementation mile stones are lagging and considering recent realities and opportunities facing the county as well as considering the fact that in 2022 we are still in phase 2.
THE VISION PROPOSED IN THE DOCUMENT WILL MATERIALIZE ONLY WITH STRONG LEADERSHIP, COMMITMENT, BROAD NATIONAL SUPPORT AND PARTICIPATION
The Strategic Vision Document was developed against the following background:
1. Nigeria is an integral part of the world community, therefore adaptation and flexibility will be the watchword for the years ahead.
2. Nigerians will want best value for their money and will therefore demand a rail system that will move them quickly, safely, and comfortably in a way that is environmentally friendly.
3. Nigeria is grossly underdeveloped with respect to rail service. A study of the comparative mobility indexes for African States and other countries – establishes this fact.
4. Technological change will influence developments in the Transportation Sector.
5. Operational and demographic changes will encourage integrated and intermodal transportation.
6. Potential investors will invest under conditions that enable them make fair returns on their investment.
In all, what makes the Railway transportation system is not just the Rail tracks and the Rolling stock but much more including the governance structure, safety and security systems, Passenger and freight services administration, statutes and legal framework/environment, ticketing systems, Data and information management systems, signaling Systems among others and the associated policies guiding them.
Hence, discussing Safety and Security systems of Rail Transportation in Nigeria in context of modern day realities could not be done in 1hr. I would however be brief.
I will focus more on gaps and what should be and needs to be met. I expect the discussants and the follow up contribution and the Q/A session will throw up other issues.
While Rail safety itself will be said to be in two parts, ie internally related Safety and externally influenced safety, we can safely assume the externally influenced to refer to Rail securities. Thanks the organizers already separated it.
To many they are same of same, but not at all. They are different and never same as different regimes of policy, stakeholders, regulations, governance and authorities may be and usually responsible for their implementation.
Rail Safety basically entails all activities involved and affected by internal day to day operations, administration, deployment, maintenance and passenger/freight movement under the direct and full control of the Rail Authority management/Board.
They include issues related to:
b. Train Collision
c. Train Collision with obstacle
d. Track integrity/Damages
e. Rail crossing/Level crossing
f. Rolling stock fire
g. Work related safety issues (HSE)
h. Track obstruction
j. Death by Railway (suicides and trespasses)
k. Localized by Regions
EU Data (2006-2019)
l. Derailment 29%
m. Train Collision 9%
n. Train Collision with obstacle 8%
o. Track integrity/Damages
p. Rail crossing/Level crossing 25%
q. Rolling stock fire 4%
r. Work related safety issues (HSE)
s. Track obstruction
u. Death by Railway (suicides and trespassers) 15%
v. Others located by regions 10%
Security on the other hand will relate to issues such as:
a. Railway environment community relations
c. Personal attacks/Harassment within coaches and around corridor/coaches
d. Kidnapping /Terrorism
f. Riots/Public disturbance/War situation/
g. Immigration related issues
From the above, the Nigerian Railway system or should we say the Nigerian Rail Transportation system has not been as challenged in recent time by securities related issues except for as a result of recent twin train terrorist attacks with kidnappings, killings and ransom demands. The security aspect is managed by the Specialist security agencies, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) handled by a special Police Command headed by a Commissioner of Police rank Railway Police Command and the Nigeria Securities and Civil Defense Corporation (NSCDC). The recent attacks have led to shutdown of the AKTS Rail line and affecting opportunities on other lines. Discussion on this will be limited for obvious reasons for solution and opportunities.
Railway Transportation Safety
An overview of confirmed discussants Indicates that we will be having someone from the NRC and as such will speak more about current issues for me to look into what constitutes global practices and opportunities for Nigeria to join the world to make our rail system safer and secured. I will however not fail to let my insight reflect in my thoughts in my recommendations and conclusions.
I have designed this presentation in such a way so that before I conclude, the audience would be in position to situate the current situation. We also need to be mindful not to create unnecessary panic or fears in the minds of the public via the media reportage.
I am aware this is an open event and as such our media personnel need to exercise some restrain in view of the current effort at repositioning our Rail system under the present administration at National and some sub-national with huge local and foreign investment in Rail infrastructure. The Rail Transportation still remain the safest mode among Land Transport Modes.
Safety systems in all transport modes though mostly measured by incidences and accidents, it is much more than that and includes systems failure, elements of the existence and compliance with the relevant statutes, rules, regulations, processes and penalty for breaches put in place, the people and their competence, assurance that accident, incidence and breaches will not happen and if it does it will be promptly and correctly attended to without or with minimal consequences within acceptable limit.
Let me at this point say that the situation in Nigeria is not that bad as it is similar to the situation in many African and developing countries. Is that what we want, definitely not? We strive to be at the level of global readiness as we represent the hope of African and the world black people. Since 2002 and especially 2010 and 2016, we have improved and things changed for the better. Also because of our current level of operations, we face fewer risk as rail safety indices are often measured in Km travelled, Passenger moved, hours worked or in operations among others. In all, we ought to be better than where we are.
Safety culture is critical and should be Top Management driven. Rail transportation safety and security is also about the quality and commitment of Top management as Rail safety measures are often very expensive with Low Benefit-Cost ratio as a result of strong Institution, Legal and Political pressures. For better result and in line with global trend, separate departments are created for safety and safety Officers who must be certified as such, often reports directly to the Board/Top management. Safety is a central issue that challenges decision-making during the planning and implementation of modern day railway system especially with the advent of High Speed Rail (HSR) and as such appropriate systems should be in place to ensure safe performance during operations.
According to Hale in 2000, integrated safety approach to all modes of Transport not just rail is necessary to gain trust from the public and government.
If it is perceived unsafe as with the AbjKad line in recent time due to the twin attack society will choose not to use it, hence a “waste of the infrastructure assets”.
Parker yet al (2006) classified rail safety into different levels;
1. Pathological Who cares
2. Reactive Safety is important (we do everything necessary after the accident).
3. Calculative We have systems in place to deal with the situation
4. Proactive We try to anticipate before it happens
5. General Safety is our business
In all, critical will be:
Most recent approach is the installation of Train Protection System (TPS) which is one of the most implemented safety procedures. It can stop the train. I believe the Abuja Rail Mass Transit System has this. The trains on track can be viewed/monitored and the train stopped from the Central Control room at Idu.
Quick ones on Nigeria Rail Transportation Safety
How often do we conduct Rail Track Safety Audit (RTSA)
How often do we check Rolling stock/wagon/Locos/EMU/DMU/cranes etc?
How often do we check diesel and water quality?
How often do we renew our personnel safety certification?
How often do we conduct work related training?
How often do we conduct systems audit
How often do we conduct and document incidence/accident investigation
Rail Transportation Safety in Nigeria
Haven said so much, let me now be specific on what we need to do.
There is definitely a gap and an opportunity to close it considering the ongoing efforts, the support from the FMoT and our various state governments like the FCT, Lagos, Niger states and co. We need to quickly establish what we are considering, where we should be or what we currently doing:
Elements for consideration:
1. We need to establish a National Rail Safety Policy (if it is not currently part of the national Transport Policy under consideration), a document on our National Rail Safety intention, minimum expectation and standards to achieve in line with global best practices/standards as well as purposes.
2. Arising from the Policy document;
a. Develop a statute, laws, regulations and rules of engagement.
b. Structure. Arising from 1, establish an Agency/Authority or an Administration to superintend/implement the expectations of the Policy document and or whatever is contained in the statutes, laws, regulations in 1 (like with NCAA, AIB, FRSC).
c. Develop established proceses, standards, procedures and methodologies for the implementation and operations of 1 and by 2 above. That’s the Ways and Means.
d. Develop Compliance, Reward and Punishment systems
e. Set up an independent incident/accident investigation administration. Investigation must be independent to be valuable, reliable and acceptable. It must be of highest degree of Integrity.
f. We need to monitor or target a ZERO incidence/accident system
Experience of March 2022 has provided some opportunities. Let it be established that Terrorist attacks on transportation assets is not new nor limited to Nigeria as the sector and rail inclusive meets all the requirement of terrorist soft targets. Examples abound worldwide.
1. In addition to the ongoing efforts by the National government, FMOT and the Nigerian Railway Corporation as efforts are in top gear to not just resume the AbjKad Rail line services but provide a sustainable, secured and safer rail transportation services along all Rail corridors.
2. We need to establish a National minimum security checklist for Rail operations in Nigeria.
3. We need to be Proactive to provide Security systems based on modern technology taking advantage of innovations and AI.
4. We need to declare not just a Rail Transportation security system but a Transportation wide system as we move towards achieving an intermodal transportation system. Attack on one injures others
5. There must be a regular safety review committee of top level stakeholders with the office of the National security adviser
6. Beyond regular safety audit, we need to carry out regular Security audit of all Rail Infrastructure assets and systems to assure the passenger/freight, government, investors and relevant stakeholders.
7. We need to encourage sharing of information among modes and between security operatives.
8. We need to deepen on lesson learnt from the last twin terrorist attacks on the AKTS rail line as findings is key to preventing the next one.
9. While deploying technology, we need serious engagement with host communities along rail infrastructure installation as part of our intelligence gathering system for a more secured corridor.
10. We need to support the ongoing efforts of the National government, FMOT, NRC at resuming the AKTS Rail services after the deployment of the appropriate security systems.
In conclusion, we must adopt an Holistic General System, where safety and security is approached as the minimum standard of operation of the Rail Transportation sector just as we have done with the Air transportation sector. We need National coordination with safety compliance information available freely and willingly by all operators and stakeholders on a monthly basis not just on request, (FO1 ACT).