The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the Federal Government may consider capital punishment for railway track vandals in the country.
Amaechi, said this during a Town Hall Meeting on ”Protecting Public Infrastructure” on Monday, June 7, in Abuja.
According to Amaechi, rail track vandalism is a capital offense and its consequences should be treated as such.
”I am not quantifying the material cost; what I am quantifying is the lives that will be lost.
”Imagine that a driver of a rail track is driving and suddenly bumps into a track that has been severed what happens? It will derail.
”Each coach in Nigeria carries about 85 passengers, sometimes we carry 14 coaches, sometimes 20.
”So imagine you are carrying a train of 14 or 20 coaches with 85 passengers in each coach, if it derails, can you quantify how many passengers that would have died in the course of one man thinking he is making money.
”So, it is not about the cost but the lives that would have been lost because of few interest.
”Some people have recommended that since these people are killing people if an accident happens people will die, so we should go back to the National Assembly and pass a law that does not only criminalise the action but consequences should be death,” Amaechi said.
Amaechi further suggested that if armed robbery whether successful or not attracts life imprisonment, rail track vandalism should not be any less.
He said the Ministry and the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) were working at reducing the rate of vandalism; but a lot still needed to be done.
The Minister frowned at the rate at which the tracks were being converted to shops as well as restaurants; especially in Port Harcourt and in Lagos.
He called on such offenders to desist or face the penalties.
”The solution is to put them in jail. All you need to do is pass a law, put them in jail. I’m sure if you take 15 to 30 people to court; if they are found guilty and you put them in jail it will deter others.
”People have seized our lands and converted them to markets.
”We need people to leave our tracks alone for safety purposes,” Amaechi said.