Lagos test-runs blue rail: 53-year-old man, others relive experience of first train ride
It was a memorable experience for Abiodun Sashoya, a director in Lagos State Ministry of Transportation as he narrated the experience of his first train ride,
Sashoya was among participants in the first-test run of the blue light rail on Monday, which started from Marina train station, witnessed by students, University of Lagos lecturers, top government functionaries, journalists, and heads of government agencies.
Reliving his experience to The Guardian, Sashoya said: “This is the first time I will ever get on a train, I have never been on a train. So, for me, it’s an experience I cannot forget. I was actually looking forward to it. I told my children that daddy is going to get on the train for the first time. I am in my 50’s. This is my first time on a moving train, I have crossed Ebute-Meta and seen parked and moving trains but this my first experience.
“ I think it’s an experience, we are doing something for the first time. This is something that is an everyday experience for some other people. I feel a little bit embarrassed to tell anyone that it’s my first time on the train but it’s very exciting, it’s comfortable, the time frame is short.
“I hope Lagosians will make good use of this facility so they don’t turn it to another thing. I am sure government has expended huge capital in doing this. We should make good use of this. I want to commend the government for their efforts. By the time all these are completed, Lagos will be a completely different state.”
For Peter Henderson, a 200-level Geography student of the University of Lagos, the trip from Marina to Mile 2 and back was his first. According to him, the trip was pretty safe and fast as it was done in less than 30 minutes.
Henderson, who said he was among students invited for the ride because they were studying a course on transport, said the time frame of the trip would have been longer, if they were using other means of transport.
“ It’s something I would love to do again, maybe to FESTAC because it is faster and pretty easy. I really enjoyed the experience, I want people to actually use the trains.
“I think awareness is key, because many people are not aware of this and are not used to train, some people do use the old train and we have all had the mental picture of old trains, but there is need more awareness to tell Nigerians that it is not the same as old train, it’s now more comfortable.
Also, reliving her excitement, a Lagos resident Mrs. Ade Adekeye, said it was delightful and amazing that we’re replicating things that we see in other climes in Nigeria, especially in Lagos.
“ I am just looking at what possibilities will start accruing from this intervention. Instead of staying hours in traffic and when people can easily come in by train, it’s a very good intervention, the government has done very well. I hope that in terms of maintenance, we’ll be able to sustain the service. So the governor has done very well. People should learn to use the service properly and not litter the trains.”
On his part, Director of Vehicle Inspection Service (VIO), Akin-George Fashola, said:
“It is a new endeavour for residents of Lagos to move around faster without affecting road traffic and cut down the number of vehicles, and hopefully decongest Lagos roads drastically,”
Deputy speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Eshinloku Sanni Wasiu, who was on the ride, said the train system will aid ease of movement and transportation within the Lagos metropolitan, especially between Mile 2 and Lagos Island. He said: “You know that Lagos Island, especially where the terminals are situated, is where you have all organised private sector operators and we have all those people coming to buy goods. So, It will assist commuters to ease movement of goods and services. It is a big step going forward for Lagos State and residents.
Managing Director of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority, Engr Abimbola Akinajo said the test run would be carried out twice weekly over the next two months, and open for Lagosians from all walks of life to board the train and have a feel of its comfort.
According to her, market men and women, artisans, students, members of the media and other professionals are being invited, adding that soon, LAMATA would ask any Nigerians who wishes to ride on the train to send in their email address and they in turn would be communicated when they would be able to board the train.
Akinajo said full operation will commence in the first week of April as Lagosians are excited that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has delivered on the blue line train service.
She said: “Everybody will benefit, we are going to call students, today University of Lagos students are on board. We have invited a number of tertiary institutions, some of them told us they are having examinations, but they would come later, primary school kids, secondary school students, market women, artisans will be invited. At the final last two weeks, we will put out an email address for all Lagosians to register their interest to get into the train.
“That way, it is open to public to some level and all those who have registered we will call them. So, there would come a point where we won’t be the one to invite Lagosians to register their interest and we will send them a message that it’s okay for you to come.
“ First of all, you need to understand there is an availability of trains and there is the ability of the system to take people. So, if you look at the station, there is an automatic fare collection system, which can process 250 passengers in one minute. What that means is that we are able to process a lot of passengers by minutes on a daily basis. So, the position of this rail system is that for the first phase, we would be able to carry 250,000 passengers a day, that’s with the availability of rolling stock. Right now, we have three sets of rolling stock, each of them on one journey can take 2,000 passengers and we have operations that would run from 5:30am 10:30 or 11: 00p.m.pay and all of that. So we understand the trust of passengers’ demand and we will ensure that the operation responds to passenger’s demand.”
On the issue of sustainability, the Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation (M.O.T), Engr. Abdulhafiz Gbolahan Toriola, said the state is ready to ensure that the service continues as the red one will soon commence because the overall plan is to decongest the road by having alternative means of transportation.
“What Lagosians tend to benefit is the fastest means of transport, safe and secure, no traffic, no harassment, and there is comfort and to also decongest the roads,” he added.