For the average Nigerian, trains still aren’t a viable alternative transportation options. Our rail lines are still terrible, and the few places where we have seen progress have been driven by political motivations rather than economic projections. As such the rail system in the country has remained largely cosmetic and unable to meet the country’s continually rising economic demands.
With the system gradually warming itself up from a protracted freeze through the several policies and proactive steps that have been taken by the government to reinstate the viability of the railway system, what looks like an auspicious step in the right direction keeps getting sabotaged by our government’s sluggish progress, its use of poor railway materials, mismanagement, slow project implementation, and theft.
Recently, the federal government announced the planned deployment of 350 wagons on the Lagos-Ibadan rail line with hopes to shoot up the frequency of free train rides on the route starting from December 21, 2019.
From the looks of things and in line with the statements made by the Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria, while speaking on the latest development National Transportation Summit of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria, the government intends to push on with revamping this sector.
E-tickets, the connection of more states through rail, the plan to regularize and increase ride hours as well as the reiteration of the problems faced with making these plans a reality were the highlights of his statement.
And disappointingly, part of the problems Okhiria raised was of the vandalization of rail infrastructure, although it didn’t specify by who.
In his words, “You can’t imagine that between Lagos and Ibadan, we have replaced over 5,000 clips and close to 10,000 bolts and nuts on the track and it is not a good at all. Without those things on the tracks, accident can occur. We know the volume of passengers on a train. So vandalism of rail infrastructure has to stop.” Indeed it has to.
Regardless of the uncertain demography of the people who uphold these deplorable acts, the fact remains that it is not okay. Our culture of consistently sabotaging ourselves while trying to look out for our wellbeing is sad but longstanding.
There is no denying the immense good that a diverse transport system would bring to our economic, social, developmental well being so why aren’t we letting that happen? It is important to consider the motive behind why anyone would want to steal valuable parts of the hugely rewarding service which begins and ends around the concept of lack.
Yet there is always the space to talk about these things side by side; it is not okay what the country’s poverty level is driving people to do but to actively wedge a sector that looks to be able to considerably ameliorate this problem is just us wanting to remain in an impenetrable bubble of need.
Also true; the government hasn’t shown to carry people along with its policies or to have made these policies with us in mind, there is no reason why we shouldn’t stand for what is right.