Story & Pictures BY GBEMILE OLUWATOSIN
What kind of experience would you expect on a train ride from Lagos, the famous centre of excellence, to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, and back? If you said, unforgettable, you are right, but it now depends on whether it is negatively or positively unforgettable.
It wasn’t a journey undertaken in the notorious old train coaches, but one done in a modern train.
It was a Sunday and the Yaba main terminus the takeoff point, and the motivation was to cut off the huge traffic that normally awaited road travelers.
The class was economy and this cost N2, 600. from the interior of the train, down to the conduct of the ticket and station officers, one could say that there is hope for Nigeria, that is if the same thing that I experienced could be applied in other sectors of the society.
I can say, that of all the projects of President Muhammadu Buhari, there is at least one that is really working.
And that is, if the railway station business would still be handled by the Chinese in the years coming.
To say that I sincerely enjoyed my journey to and fro, Lagos to Ibadan, Ibadan to Lagos is merely stating the obvious.
It was as if I was out of the country.
Sighting the topography from out the window alone was interesting, the scenery was soothing. indeed “The land is green” as sang by TY Bello readily came to my mind.
There were many aspects of my experience that supported the phrase that the Nigerian land is green one, and that secondly, it was an unforgettable train ride.
In fact the security arrangement inside the train and the stations at each of the stops, was topnotch; one could notice the presence of security men all over.
This was noticed right, from Babatunde Fashola Station, Agege, through Professor Wole Soyinka Library Station Papalanto, to Omi Adio station down to Moniya Ibadan, security men guided the journey all through
As a passenger you had options which class to join – First Class, Business Class and Economy or Standard Class.
The good thing was which ever, you had good working air conditioner. I will advise that you arm yourself with a thick cloth to keep the cold abay, should you desire to travel by the train.
No trading is allowed so you come in with your prepared food. In other words, there no “Driver please I want to buy dodo ikire or screaming of mum sha kin mu agbado wa”All you would be seeing throughout your journey is green vegetation once you have escaped the sorry sight of shanties around Agege.,
It was exactly, at 8.00 am, that the unforgettable train ride began; it waited for nobody, which means that virtually everybody traveling to Ibadan was already on ground before 8am all checking-in their luggage immediately tickets were bought. This meant also that the issue of racketeering tickets or hoodlums hoarding the tickets would not arise.
At the dot of 10:30am, we arrived Moniya Station, Ibadan.
And to that extent, one was able to meet his appointments, conclude them in good time, ready to embark on the return journey.
We left Ibadan 8:am and arrive the Babatunde Fashola Station, Agege, 10.20am, with the train continuing to its final destination of Alapomeji, Ebute Metta, and there was every assurance that it would get there by 10:30am.
Having experienced it myself, I can now categorically tell that you could go to Ibadan today and return back to Lagos same day. Leaving here 8am, you are sure of getting to Ibadan in good time, transacting your business and still be able to join the 4:00pm coach back to Lagos; by 6:30 pm, you are cooling off in Eko.
Honestly, it has shown that we could be good in implementing multi-billion projects; the problem however would come in maintenance. I am just hoping that the lack of maintenance culture would not mar this unforgettable train ride, 20-40 years down the road.