The usual free train service provided by Osun Gov. Rauf Aregbesola for citizens of Osun in Lagos on Saturday left the Lagos terminus of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) for Osogbo with hundreds of passengers on board amid tight security.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that more than 1,000 passengers benefited from the free train ride which the governor usually provide on the eve of Muslim and Christian festivals.
The passengers including children mainly Christian faithful expressed joy over the free ride coming at time when transport fares have gone up. They said it would afford them the opportunity of celebrating Christmas and New Year with their families in Osun.
The Lagos District Manager of NRC, Mr Jerry Oche, told NAN that the train which left the terminus at about 11.30 am conveyed more than 1, 000 passengers.
Oche said adequate security was provided for the passengers on board. “The train left Lagos terminus with 10 coaches and each coach contains hundred passengers.
“We also ensured full security with armed policemen of the NRC command. We have increased our capacity to enable the train carry enough passengers during and after the festivity,’’ he said.
According to him, NRC added seven additional coaches to the trains for better efficiency as the free ride gesture will continue till Dec. 31.
Meanwhile, travellers, who besieged the various motor parks in Lagos, have decried the high fares being charged by the operators. An Enugu-bound passenger, Mr Fedrick Onuoha, told NAN that it was shocking for him to discover that fare to Enugu for commuters who board Sienna bus had been increased from N5, 000 to N8, 000.
“I have already budgeted N6, 000 for my transport fare to my village,but on getting to the park it has been increased to pay N8, 000 which will affect my plans.
“Many passengers will be affected by the high cost of transport fare; initially I wanted to travel with my family but we realise it will cost us more and that is why I decided to go alone.’’
Mrs Mary Okereke, a civil servant, also complained that the fare to Abia had jumped to N9,000 from N5,000 and appealed to the state government to come to their aid by providing subsidised bus service for its citizens particularly during yuletide which previous administration provided.