Worried by what they called “age-long abnormalities’’ in the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), some concerned passengers have urged the incoming government in the country to overhaul the corporation.
The passengers, on the Lagos-Ogun Mass Transit train, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, should prioritise the transformation of the rail transport system.
They said that when the incoming administration was sworn-in on May 29, and it sanitises they system, it would enable Nigerians to reap the benefits of railway transport.
They claimed that railway should have been the solution to Nigeria’s chaotic traffic situation but that the management of the corporation had failed in developing the transport sub-sector.
A septuagenarian lawyer, Mr Muthew Alabede, told NAN that he had been joining the Ogun-Lagos passengers train for over 20 years but that the corporation had failed to improve on its awful services.
“Imagine, the management has not improved a bit on its services since its inception over the years; instead their services are deteriorating daily.
“In fact, in the past, the services were excellent but recently it has gone from bad to worse.
“The congestion in the train is beyond comprehension, leading to passengers collapsing on board.
“The congestion also causes people to be hanging on the coaches and even the locomotive, leading to high casualties when passengers fall off the moving train.
“The coaches are dirty, dark and unkempt with broken seats,’’ Alabede said.
“The management no longer keeps to time schedule, making office workers to seek alternative means.
“Passengers are treated like slaves, both the management and the staff also lack simple respect for their passengers.
“The passengers are increasing daily but the management has failed to improve on its services in tandem with the number of passengers.
“Obviously, the management has no statistics of its daily passengers and without statistics, there can never be proper planning. ’’
He added that the rail system should have been the solution to the recent gridlock in Lagos caused by fuel tankers trying to lift fuel in Lagos.
The septuagenarian regretted that the rail line to Apapa Wharf had been blocked at Ido, Lagos by a company which has erected a structure on the rail track.
He noted that such was the case in several areas in Lagos and elsewhere in the country and that the management had done nothing to reclaim the lines.
Mrs Gloria Chukwuma, a banker at Oshodi, told NAN that in the past, she used to join the train at Agbado, Ogun, “when the corporation strictly adhered to its time schedules’’.
“But today, the corporation operates haphazardly, leaving many of us who have to resume work early in the morning to get late to our workplaces.
“My worry is that many of the officials of the corporation had witnessed how rail system operates in the advanced world, but they have failed to let it work here,’’ Chukwuma said.
She said that the management really amused her with the introduction of the Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) which, she said, not only did not fit into Nigeria’s railway system but was also expensive.
“Most times, the DMU are run almost empty because it cost N750 per passenger per trip, so, it is a colossal waste to Nigeria.
“Besides being expensive, the DMU is for a country that operates underground rail system and not Nigeria with surface the system.
“In several advanced countries I have travelled to, DMUs are basically underground,’’ she said.
According to her, train stations in Nigeria still lacked the required facilities to cope with DMU trains.
A trader at Mushin, Mrs Funke Hassan, said that Buhari should ensure a complete overhaul of the sub-sector to ensure its revival.
Hassan noted that if well organised, the sub-sector could solve the chaotic traffic situation in the country, especially in Lagos and Abuja and also employ hundreds of youths directly and indirectly.
A retired staff of the corporation, who pleaded anonymity, also told NAN that the management of the corporation needed overhaul for effective services.
“Imagine, the corporation has abandoned its second track from Ido to Agbado in Ogun since 2007 and there is no effort to reclaim the track.
“The abandoned track had been taken over by traders, while in most areas it is covered by refuse and the corporation now operates on one track leading to loss of time schedule.
Another passenger Alhaji Umoru Abdullahi, said that the long distance train services from Lagos to the north parts of the country had also gone from bad to worse.
“Gone are the days when the train used to transport passengers and companies goods from Lagos to the north and back and timely too, today, it is history,’’ Abdullahi said.
Efforts by NAN to get the corporation’s Managing Director, Adeseyi Sijuwade to comment on the issues raised by the passengers failed.
Also the corporation’s spokesman, Mr Segun Esan and the Lagos District spokesman, Mr Ademuyiwa Adekanmbi, could not be reached for comment on telephone. (NAN)