The passenger train that left Lagos for Ilorin on Friday was so overcrowded that many simply sat on the floor, while some others remained standing, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
NAN reports that the train was already overcrowded at its takeoff point, Ido on Lagos Mainland, leaving many of those waiting to board along the numerous stations along its path disappointed.
Many of the passengers told NAN they were avoiding the high cost of road transportation, which had been increasing since Christmas, and was further fueled by the removal of subsidy on petrol that was announced on Jan. 1.
Afusat Iroko, a Lagos based petty trader, who was on her way to Ilorin, told NAN the difference in rail and road fares was “too wide to be ignored in these austere times.
“By road, Lagos to Ilorin is between N3, 000 and N3, 500, while it is N680 by train, economy class. As you can see, this is a family trip– I am with five adults and two children. We are determined to stomach the inconveniences,” she said.
In the same vein, Jide Ige, who was on the Lagos-Osogbo leg of the train ride, said he paid N550 for a seat in the economy class, instead of the N2, 000 or N2, 500 he was asked to pay for a bus ride.
“I am not in a hurry to get to Oshogbo. Money is scarce these days and I’m sure can divert the about N2, 000 difference in the fares to meet other personal needs,” Mr. Ige said.
A desperate young man who was able to force his way into the train at Ijoko, Ogun, queried the wisdom in having only a passenger train ride from Lagos to Ilorin in a week, under the present circumstances.
“This is where I quarrel with the government. Shouldn’t there have been two or three trips between Lagos and Ilorin on daily basis before the removal of subsidy on petrol came into force?
“I honestly believe that the managers of the railways do not know how to look for money; this is their time to compete with these cheating road transporters,” said the youth who simply gave his name as Kalifa.
Attempts to speak with the South-West manager of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) from the moving train were abortive.
However, an NRC official on the train, who asked not to be named, told NAN that there would be daily train rides between Lagos and Kano within the next three months as the corporation has continued to revive rail transportation.