The Journey So far…
The Nigerian Minister, Mr. Rotimi Amechi has done a very good job in reviving the railway system within the first tenure of President Mohammed Buhari regime. As a result, travellers prefer using the train while travelling between Abuja and Kaduna. The revival has seen a lot of passengers trooping to the train station at Rigasa, Kaduna and Kubwa in Abuja. I witnessed a shortage of sitting spaces during my few travels using the rail. One can simply conclude that Nigerians are ready to embrace rail transportation services if the necessary facilities and access are in place. That is why the transport ministry is concentrating good efforts in reviving the rail system abandoned over the years.
What the passengers faces…
We can agree that there is higher demand than available sitting spaces on the various trains witnessed. Infact, I met a traveller who claimed he had stayed all day at the station hoping to make a journey from Kaduna to Abuja. The tickets were sold out. One therefore, could see the potential of improving the revenue generation stream of the federal government if certain steps are taken. To plug the revenue losses to the government, there is need to innovate and use modern technology in handling tickets generation and allocations.
We wish to make a simple proposition of how the rail system can be improved. By our observation, we looked at the possibility of opening up the rail system to private investors. Take for instance, Government can take the responsibility of constructing the rail systems while other investors purchase and install the coaches. By having this partnership with the Government, there would be efficiency in ticket management and sales.
Also, there are widespread indigenous technology solution in the Fintech space which have solved the ticketing of road transport companies. These fintechs have built online booking and ticket purchases, fleet management solution, and provision their service as software as a service, SaaS. For these, the rail corporation can leverage on existing technology for the train management. Of course, there would be revenue sharing between the investors and the government.
If the above arrangement is executed, it will eliminate shortage of coaches and eliminate the revenue losses borne by the government in the current arrangement. This will also reduce the unemployment rate as more workers would be engaged in the online management.