Rail services: Excitement, relief as Lagos-Ogun mass transit train resumes operation
By Prince Okafor
Passengers and passersby have expressed relief and satisfaction as the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, onThursday, resumed mass transit train services along the Ijoko-Iddo, Ogun, Lagos State, respectively.
Recall, NRC suspended daily train services, including mass transit train operations on the narrow gauge from Ijoko, Ogun to Iddo and Apapa in Lagos State in September 2019.
The corporation had informed its customers that the suspended train services would resume on November 15, 2019, but failed to meet the target based on some logistic constraints.
The District Manager of NRC in Lagos, Mr Jerry Oche, had earlier on Wednesday, said that the operation would resume on Thursday, January 23, 2020, with one return trip daily from Kajola in Ogun to Iddo in Lagos.
According to him, “We hope to resume the Lagos mass transit tomorrow, Thursday. We will start with just one return trip tomorrow. A return trip for us is to and fro.
“Part of the reasons we are operating one trip is to conduct trials on the tracks that have just been done and also because of the construction of standard gauge rail line ongoing.
“The implication is that if we put more trains on the tracks, there might be issues of crossing. All we want to do now is one return trip each day for some time before we fully bounce back.”
Oche added that freight services would not return on Thursday because there was more work to be done on the tracks, but the operation would commence soon.
The suspension was to fast-track the completion of the new Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge line which required shifting the existing narrow gauge and relaying it to accommodate the standard gauge rail line.
The project is being handled by China Civil Engineering Construction Company.
The train which resumed operation for the first time, was sighted around 7.30 am, at Ladipo area of Oshodi, had some passengers waving to passersby in apparent excitement
The the long-awaited resumption of train service was also greeted with excitement from passersby who hailed the government’s effort at the revamping of the rail service.
According to a resident, Mr Abolere Ahmed, who commented on the development, “It’s a welcome development. It has been long-awaited. And with this is resumption, it will go along way in reducing congestion on the road which is already choked.”
Also, Mrs Adejoke Abiola, a trader in Oshodi and resides in Sango Otta, Ogun State, said, “We are happy to see the train come back to life after many months of absence which had brought untold hardship on regular passengers.
“Before the suspension, I usually board the train back home at close of work for just N200 but had to part with N600 to board a minibus daily to Sango-Otta which is a huge stress on my finances considering my meagre profits I make daily on my business.
“So, this is a great relief to some of us. We urge the government to sustain this and even improve on its services by providing turn around at quick intervals rather than the usual long interval of movement. Kudos to this government. God will continue to influence them (governments) to deliver dividends of democracy to the masses.”