Access roads to train stations

Experience related by Lekan Otufodunrin

For the first time, I had the opportunity to travel by rail in the country for the Media Leader’s Summit held recently in Abeokuta, Ogun State on May 6 and 7. Like me, most participants were having their first experience with the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan service.

We were pleasantly surprised about the high quality of the service by the NRC compared well with our experiences outside the country.

The journey commenced on schedule and arrived at the beautiful Professor Wole Soyinka Station in Abeokuta promptly. The air-conditioned coaches were very neat and the staff were very professional in their duties.

The road journey from the station to Abeokuta however turned out to be the killjoy of our lovely experience on the train. The bus that took us to town had to pass through an untarred access road. It took a lot of effort for the driver of our bus to meander through some slippery parts of the winding road. At some points, the road was not wide enough for two vehicles. Some passengers not on our team took commercial motorcycles to town.

Why would so much be spent on the rail service and access road would not be available for passengers? If the federal government failed to provide the access road, why can’t the state government where the station is located provide it since it will encourage more residents and visitors to take the train?

I traveled to Ibadan by train last Wednesday and the access road at the Moniya station to the city by the NRC is far better. I learned that the access road at the Omi Adio station also in Ibadan has been rehabilitated by the state government.

While the Ogun State government says it is concerned about the worn-out road considering that it holds the promise of rendering train travel more enjoyable, it said in a statement that “we tread cautiously, refraining from vocalizing our concerns, lest it be misconstrued as making excuses.”

“Debates ensue, tangled in bureaucratic intricacies, as this particular stretch, albeit short, falls under the purview of the Federal Government, responsible for its upkeep. To embark on reconstruction, the State Government requires permission from the Minister. However, obtaining such authorization proves a sluggish ordeal, hindered by bureaucratic inertia.”

What the state government’s statement suggests is that it could have rehabilitated the access road but for lack of the permission required. Considering the negative impact of the bad access road on the patronage of the train service, the bureaucratic issue should be resolved promptly.

It is bad enough that the access road is in bad condition, delaying the rehabilitation further for any reason is bound to affect the patronage the NRC hopes to benefit from. The Ogun state government should make good its promise to commence work on the access road while awaiting final approval for the sake of those getting used to traveling to the state capital by train.

Efficient rail service would be a welcome relief for those who don’t want to go through the hassles and risks of road transportation. What is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.

Providing motorable access roads to all train stations in the country should be a priority of the state and federal government as part of efforts to improve transportation in the country.

Source: The Nation

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