Sunday, September 19, 2021 4:00 pm
By Bayo Adeyinka
We took the train from Ibadan to Lagos this evening. We had missed the Lagos to Ibadan leg this morning as they ran out of tickets when I was on the queue. So we did the morning leg by road. That was most uncomfortable- with the traffic on the Long Bridge, Redemption Camp and other spots on Lagos-Ibadan expressway. Well, I took solace in a pack of gala.
Getting to the Moniya station at Ibadan took quite a while. It’s a bit far-flung from town and I was a bit concerned about access to transport especially at night but I saw a banner advertising bus services from selected spots in Ibadan to the Moniya train station.
The Moniya station is beautiful. Looks exactly like what a modern station should look like. The Alagomeji Station at Yaba is also very beautiful. The staff of the Nigeria Railway Corporation were very polite especially at Moniya. The ones at Alagomeji seemed overwhelmed with the crowd this morning. I actually saw a massive crowd at Yaba this morning. People are taking the trains.
The air-conditioning in the station worked. Everywhere was neat. The only negative I observed and which I can’t understand is why passengers have to pay cash for tickets. There were no PoSes. You also can’t book your tickets online. You have to be physically present to buy your ticket by cash. This is a leeway to potential corruption and gross inefficiency.
Apart from this, I had a good experience. I paid N4,000 for business class. The cabin was neat. The seat was very comfortable. You could even recline it. There was enough leg room. I brought out a book “Boardroom Excellence” by Paul Brountas for my reading pleasure. I knew it was going to be a long trip.
A movie was shown while music was also played via speakers in the cabin. Whoever made a choice of the songs today deserves a salary raise. Cool, sensuous, old school blues with some injection of reggae music. Each seat also had a charging point that worked.
I decided to visit the bathroom to check it out. It was so neat one could read in there. I checked for tissue paper and it was there. I opened the tap and water flowed. Simply amazing.
I love the uniform of the NRC staff. Apart from one of them who kept on speaking to people very loudly on his phone (like my Ibadan people), the staff were at their best. The platforms at various stops were very neat. I was really encouraged by what I saw and experienced today. The trip took about three hours but I’m not complaining about that. I spent longer hours by road this morning.
I have a few ideas and suggestions running in my head. The various stations were named after different persons- Professor Wole Soyinka, Ladoke Akintola, Obafemi Awolowo, Babatunde Raji Fashola, etc. Can those platforms/stations become monuments containing video documentaries and memorabilia of these personalities? This will help to institutionalize history and even draw more people to the stations. Pupils can come for excursion and learn.
The platforms need some more lighting. Some parts are really dark and for security reasons, there should be flood lights everywhere.
Overall, my experience was excellent and this gives me hope that we can still get it right.
*Bayo Adeyinka is a banker, social entrepreneur and public affairs analyst.