My Railway experience in Lagos
By Bukola Olamona
Paaaan………I thought it was the trumpet that sounded the end of this world as we were made to understand in the Bible, but alas! it was a railway noise that woke me up at around six in the morning as I was very tired from the previous journey to Lagos that Sunday.
I jumped up from my bed and was wondering where the noise was coming from, and as I peeped out of the window and realised that it was a train that was making a chugging sound.
I had not seen a train for a long while, through my room’s window, I can see the moving train and what baffled me was that a lot of people were sitting on top of the train, some hanging on its two sides and they were not even afraid of their lives.
The school where I was doing a course National Broadcast Academy (NBA), situated at No 1, Adekunle Fajuyi, Ikeja, Lagos was beside a railway and nothing less than six or eight trains passed through the rail everyday, hence the noise.
At first I was sceptical of the noise but got used to it . I had to pretend that nothing happens and turned it to an amusement thing.
Speaking with one of the commuters who has been working around Shogunle, a terminal of the railway for about 24years, Hajia Ronke Shekinat Asaka said she met the railway lines there and they have been working for a long time even before she came to the area.
According to her,” then we don’t have many people boarding the train because they thought it was dirty, slow and also we don’t have many people that have private cars but now nearly everyone has their car, so the road is almost filled with cars and there is traffic everywhere” .
” But now people prefer going with train as they know the time it will take off and when it will get to their destinations “.
She disclosed that the price of the fare ranges from, N230 to N750, adding that it depends on the commuters pocket.
“We also have the one that has air conditioner which is also very safe and moves very fast costs N750 and the other one for the general cost N250 depending on your pocket,.” she stated.
According to investigation, it was observed that the railway takes off from Ijoko which is a boundary town between Lagos and Ogun State to Ido in Idumota but have some terminals at Alagbado,Iju, Agege, Ikeja, Shogunle, Oshodi, Yaba, and terminate at Ido in Idumota.
In an interview with a commuter who did not want to be mentioned at Shogunle terminal, he said commuters prefer railway because to some extent, it is affordable and there is no traffic that can delay it except it has mechanical problem.
He said those hanging on the sides of the train did not pay as much as those inside the train and the money paid by those sitting on it belonged to the pilot while those sitting on top of the train did not pay at all.
On why would they risk their lives, he said most of them did not have money to pay as they are indigent people who might not even have daily job but needed to get to their destinations.
He said though the proposed light rail by the Federal Government is okay but that it might be too costly for indigent commuters who might not have money but are fond of sitting on the train.
According to The Hope investigation, Federal Government is planning to build new metro light rail to link some states in the country.
An example is the Lagos–Kano Standard Gauge Railway under construction. Standard gauge railway across Nigeria, from the Atlantic Ocean port of Lagos to Kano, near the Niger border. The railway will run parallel to the British-built Cape gauge line, which has a lower design.
It is under construction as workers are seen working on the rail lines near Shogunle.
In the western world, the locomotives being used in Nigeria have been suspended out and the metro light rail has taken over.
It is faster, clean and noiseless compared to the locomotives that are slow, sometimes dirty and very noisy.
People believed that if the Metro light rail is completed, it will decongest big cities as people can live in the nearby state and work in the big cities. For example, anyone working in Lagos and having a house or family in Ibadan can make it to Lagos if they can set their priority right, they only need to know the taking off time from Ibadan in the morning and when it will arrive Lagos and when it will take off from Lagos too and get to Ibadan.
The time on the railway can be used to rest while on their journey.
Railways in Nigeria are operated by the Nigerian Railway Corporation. Nigeria’s rail system consists of 3,505 km of 3 ft 6 inches (1,067 mm) gauge lines and 507 km of standard gauge lines. Efforts are underway to rehabilitate the Cape gauge network and construct a new standard gauge network.