A major train accident was averted on Saturday as a train on the Abuja-Kaduna route ram into moving herds of cattle on the rail track killing four instantly and leaving several other ones injured.
The incident caused mild pandemonium among passengers, while a team of security officials, including the soldiers attached to the train, had to act fast to douse tension and maintain peace.
A passenger, Inuwa Alhassan, who confirmed the development said it would have been more disastrous if the driver of the train was not experienced enough to know what to do in such a situation.
He said: “An inexperienced train driver could have been frightened and confused, and in the process tried to avoid the herds of cattle, thereby, resulting in derailment which could have been more disastrous because the incident happened close to the bridge.”
A staff of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) on board the train who pleaded anonymity said the killing of cow that strayed to the track has happened several times, and may continue to happen because the herdsmen have refused to avoid the track and most of them have no idea of the movement time for the train.
The staff stated: “The train is not like car, keke or bike that can match automatic brakes at will because they move in high speed. Regrettably, communities along the track have broken the perimeter fences raised to discourage unfettered access to the rail tracks because of the dangers associated thereof.
The NRC staff explained that the incident happened around one of the train stations located at Jere. “Immediately, the incident happened, the herder boy took to his heels for fear of arrest. He knew he had committed offence that could have led to the death of hundreds of passengers, that was why he ran away leaving the dead cattle.
“We were even calling him to come and attend to the injured ones but he refused. He thought he was being cajoled to return so he could be arrested. I know the NRC authorities will query the driver for what had happened. Also, they have a way of reaching out to the herdsman for possible compensation and caution.”
He advocated engagement and enlightenment of communities located along the train tracks to avoid the tracks or better still give them times when the train moves so they can avoid the tracks.
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