We stumbled upon this lovely article on Solomon Oladimeji's wall on Facebook, it's a very true and fact saying about the past and current state of the Nigerian Rail transportation system,  in which he narrates the funny and the bads of his experience so far.

So find a chair,  sit back,  if possible get cookies or popcorn:

LIFE IN NIGERIAN TRAINS: THE GOOD AND THE BAD'. MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.


HISTORY.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation traces its history to the year 1898, when the first railroad in Nigeria was constructed by the British Colonial Government. Starting in 2006, plans were made to restore the rail lines and add new locomotives with foreign assistance.
Front view of the Nigerian Railway corporation office in Ebute-Meta,  Lagos. 


FIRST EXPERIENCE.
It was 1st October 2010, I have always had a strong phobia for trains but I was prevailed upon by a colleague Ifechukwude Okeibunor Destiny after work. This was a very clean train owned by the Federal Govt and the trip was free because it was Independence Day Anniversary. The journey was beautiful, I loved it.
Solomon Oladimeji is an award winning and an experienced video editor and Journalist in Nigeria, who has work with the TV,  Radio and online media.  

TICKETING OFFICERS.
My second experience was August 2017 and it's nothing to be described as pleasant but I discovered new things. It was a mixed feeling for me.

There are two people who sell train tickets at the counter (a male and female), the male ticketer hardly ever has change (I only bought once from the female but about 4 times from the male). The train ticket is N230 from Apapa to wherever your destination is.
It is either you give him the correct fare or be ready to part ways with your change.

Unlike bus terminals where you queue to go into BRT buses, there are no rules applicable to train ticket payment queues, if the last person on the long queue has the exact fare of #230, he automatically moves to the counter to pay and proceed to where the train is.

BOARDING THE TRAIN.
When you get into the train that has no fixed time of leaving the train station, you will definitely get a seat, that is if you board from the Apapa station, the seat might not necessarily be your choice because as you search through the coaches, used tickets and stones are placed on the seats to preserve spaces for passengers who are still either working in their various Offices or are 3,4,5 train stations away from Apapa.

There are some guys whose daily jobs is to secure train seats for their regular 'customers' and of course with the connivance of the internal train ticketing officers. This racketeering is so top notch and organised that no matter who you are, you dare not remove the stones or used tickets placed on the seats (You wouldn't want to get beaten).

Securing of seats aren't philanthropical gestures as this goes for a fee that is not fixed, you negotiate and this doesn't stop you from not purchasing train tickets asides from paying for the space retained for you but trust me, monies realised from tickets sales in the train are not remitted to Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC). The funny thing is that the seat-securing guys never seat on the chairs, they stand throughout the duration of the journey. What a way to earn a decent means?

USING THE TRAIN TOILETS.
The toilet enclosure probably was last used in the 80s as evident in the look because it doesn't serve it's purpose anymore. It is being used as seats extension in the trains, if you have ever boarded a train, you will notice how small the space is which is not big enough to occupy 2 Alsatians dogs or one bull dog, yet 5-10 people out of their own volition are crammed in the closet.

COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES.
Before take off and sometimes in transit before a lot of passengers start trooping in at other train stations, all sorts of things are sold in the train: soft drinks, breads, recharge cards, snacks, clothing materials, beggars also come in to beg for alms.

COMMUNITY.
In case you don't know, the coaches in a train is a big Community on it's own, there are different tribes, races, political and religious class. Some have formed strong affinity due to years of boarding the trains together. They joke around, argue about pressing issues and sometimes fight.

END OF CONVENIENCE.
You enjoy your trip from Apapa to Ebute Meta Junction and sometimes Mushin but when you approach other terminal like Mushin, Oshodi, Ikeja, there a lot of people trooping into the train and at this time the seats are all filled up and the new passengers will have to stand (I would have snapped them standing but I fear being lynched, hence I won't be able to continue this story). The  number of people standing in the train is more than those sitting and it's a thug of war if you want to alight at your bus stop.

I often fight off angry standing passengers before I alight at Fagba and you have to guard your personal items like phones, wallets, bags while alighting because there a lot of pick pockets whose job is to board trains to steal from passengers who loose guard.

TOUGH GUYS SIT ON THE TRAIN.
There are 4 types of people in a typical Nigerian train: Those sitting on the chairs, those standing in the train, those who hang on to the railings of the train while it's on motion (Check pictures for references) and lastly, the tough guys who sit on the train.

These guys join the train from Oshodi and Ikeja.

Those who sit on the train have their own cliques (You dare not go up there because everyone has his own space), you have to be too tough to break into the circle because all sorts of things happen up there (Indian hemps, alcohol, unscripted crime).

If you attempt to snap these guys while they are on the train, they throw stones at you.

A lot of guys have fallen from the top of the train to instant deaths and when searched, they possess so much money and my question is why would you not sit in the train and pay your fare? because those sitting at the top obviously don't pay for the trip. Why cut your life too short?

I interviewed some people who have mixed reactions, while some pray that the Chinese should take over from NRC in 2019 (This will curb the excesses of the racketeering and untold hardship in the train), some are enjoying every bit of the journey but I quite frankly don't.

Those are my experiences and I will still board again to discover other things and I will share with you all.

If you have any train experience, you can as well share.

Thank you for reading.

- Oladimeji Peter Solomon. 
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