Commercial transporters in Lagos have said that the state government’s plan to roll out a 500,000-seater train will not affect their business because rail lines have and cannot cover the length and breadth of the state.
They said the government’s plan to transport citizens via trains would also help reduce traffic congestion on Lagos roads.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, in his reaction during a recent visit to the Nigeria Railway
Corporation, agreed with the transporters on this. “Not everybody boards the train, and trains cannot go everywhere,” Sambo had stated.
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was joined on a tour by his Deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, and members of his cabinet, said the transport infrastructure being developed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority when it becomes operational in the first quarter of 2023, would have the capacity to transport over 500,000 passengers daily.
He said, “The Red Line is a project conceived and started by our government, which will be delivered in the lifetime of this administration. We have given our commitment to ensure the project is completed by the end of this year as promised.”
Commercial drivers and commuters told our correspondent that the government’s plan would complement bus services, rather than compete with it. They stated that trains and buses would continue to co-exist as people needed them both.
The Vice Chairman, Taxi and Cab Drivers’ Association Chapter, Ojodu Berger, Lagos, Sowore Ladipo, said the idea would not in any way affect them, as those concerned were operators at the railway axis since there was no rail line around the Ojodu Berger axis.
He said, “It will not affect the Taxi and Cab Drivers Association of Ojodu Berger because the train will not convey people to Ojodu Berger since there aren’t rail lines on this axis.”
An ex-chairman of the association who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, commended the state government’s idea. He said it would reduce traffic and help people meet up with appointments, rather than waiting for commercial vehicles that could be trapped in traffic.
He said, “The train will not affect our business as cab drivers because one can’t rent a train like they can rent a cab. Train passengers will be train passengers, and cab passengers will be cab passengers. The trains can’t get everywhere, no train station leads to this axis, so we are not panicking.
“It is a game of choice, people will always go for their preferred means of transportation, there are people that will never board train even if you offer to convey them for free. My clients call me on phone to convey them to their destinations. So my passenger is my passenger. With the train, I am sure that road traffic will reduce.”
A member of the management of Agbado Park, Ojodu Berger, Mr Seyi Oke, also confirmed that the transporters were not fretting over the government’s plan.
“Generally, the train is a great idea but people in Berger will not be affected because the train doesn’t come to Berger and it is the people’s choice to choose their means of transportation, but the train generally is a nice idea,” he said.
The Chairman, Portugal Garage, Ibadan Unit, Agege, Lagos, Ogunsanya Odunayo, said, “The train will not affect us because it doesn’t stop in all bus stops as commercial transporters do. So, people taking the trains are different from those using buses. And talking about security or safety, it is God that saves, none is safer.”
A commercial driver from Agege, John Anyanwu, also added that the new development would not affect drivers but would help in transporting people.
A commuter, Mercy Benjamin, stated that the development was good as she would prefer commuting in trains than commercial vehicles, especially for inter-state journeys.
She said, “Train used to be safer, unlike now that we are hearing different stories from here and there.
“It is more comfortable, especially when travelling with it. It is flexible, from Lagos to the North takes over 10 hours, you can adjust your seats to sleep. Unlike buses, a train is flexible like plane. The disadvantage is that it is slow compared to commercial vehicles.”
Another commuter, Henry Okechukwu, stated that commuting in a train was preferable to him as it was faster, comfortable, safer, and could not be delayed.
He said, “I do board the train from Yaba to Iju Ishaga area of Lagos State. It is faster, more comfortable, and safer.
“I prefer the train to commercial vehicles because there is no traffic, and they don’t stop like commercial drivers who delay your movement in the process of picking up passengers on every street.”