Osun free train service: Beneficiaries laud initiative, say it’s great relief
It was fun and exciting for over 650 Eid-el-Fitr holidaymakers, who benefitted from the Osun Free Train Service. The beneficiaries, who could not hide their enthusiasm when they arrived at their destinations on Wednesday evening ahead of the Sallah celebration, applauded the state government’s social protection programmes, which had impacted positively on lives.
They described the gesture as not only commendable but also a sustainable relief to transport hurdles.
The administration of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola had successfully sustained the free train service as part of efforts to provide succour for the citizens who reside outside the state during festive periods, particularly, holidaymakers that wished to celebrate the festivities with their loved ones.
Addressing the media shortly after they alighted from the train at the Osogbo Terminal of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, some of the beneficiaries commended the government for sustaining the gesture since its introduction over 10 years ago.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr. Isa Haruna, who boarded the train from Lagos, described his experience as unquantifiable, memorable and adventurous.
Haruna lauded the state government for taking the initiative as a priority, despite the present socioeconomic realities, noting that the positive impact of the gesture had helped to permanently register the progressive government in the heart of the masses, particularly the citizens of the state who are the direct beneficiaries of the initiative.
He said the free train service had really helped to eliminate unforeseen circumstances of possible road mishaps, particularly during festive periods.
According to him, the provision of the free train service has in no doubt provided relief to him and other citizens of the state and beyond who have come home to celebrate with their families.
“I am highly impressed with this gesture coming from our government in Osun. I boarded the train in Lagos to celebrate Eid-el-Fitr with my family and it gladdens my heart that it was a very smooth and remarkable experience all through.
“This is my first time joining the free train service provided by the state, and I am bold to say the journey was nice and smooth. I appreciate the government for deeming it fit to continue with the good initiative, which had impacted greatly on the lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens.
“Indeed, this is a true ‘helping-hand initiative’ put together by the government to support the citizens of the state who live elsewhere during festive periods.
“The gesture is a big relief to us in view of the transport hurdles usually confronted by passengers during festive periods,” Haruna said.
Also, Miss Folashade Olateru and Mrs. Abiola Oyerinde described their experience as fantastic and worthwhile.
The duo that boarded the train from Lagos noted that the provision of the free train service had afforded them the opportunity to come home and celebrate with their families.
Olateru said: “This is my first experience of travelling by train from Lagos to Osogbo. My experience was very nice and smooth. I want the government to continue with this. The gesture is highly appreciated as the initiative has been helping us, particularly those who could not afford the transport fare during a period like this.”
According to Oyerinde, the initiative has made Osun stand out among the comity of states in social protection initiatives.
She said: “This is the first time I would come by train. I heard about it from a friend and giving it a try today has changed my impression of rail transportation.
“I enjoyed the trip. We had a smooth ride, as the security provided was superb. I want to implore our government to continue with it and improve on it in the interest of the people.”
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Commerce, Industries, Cooperatives and Empowerment, Dr. Bode Olaonipekun, assured that the government would do everything possible to sustain the initiative regardless of the paucity of funds.
Olaonipekun said: “It is known to everyone that we have someone who is capable of re-engineering the finances of the state and that is what we are enjoying, paucity of funds or not, he has been living up to the expectations.
“The expectation for us is that to whom much is given, much is expected. We want our people to reciprocate this gesture by paying their taxes promptly and responding to financial obligations they have to the government.”
Among the government officials that received the passengers were the Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce, Industries, Cooperatives and Empowerment, Mrs. Christiana Olusola Ogunfolaju; Coordinating Director, Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Cooperatives and Empowerment, Mrs. Kehinde Odediran; as well as Director of Commerce and Investment Promotion, Mrs. Ajibola Falode.
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