From Ben Dunno, Warri
Hundreds of rail passengers traversing various train stations from Ujevwu in Udu Local Government Area of Delta state to Itakpe in Kogi state, have expressed anger and displeasure over the outrageous hike in cost of boarding train currently being charged by the management of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) along the routes.
Investigations revealed that the cost of train from Ujevwu to Itakpe, pegged at N1900 when the train services started off in February this year and later increased to N2200 within two months is now N3000, all within the seven (7) months of its operations, representing over 70percent increase.
Same was applicable with passengers that boarded the train from Ujevwu to Uromi, at the cost of N650 when the train started in February 2021, later increased to N850 and after a short while to N1050 and now being made to cough out N1600 on the same route all within the 7months the train services commenced.
The passengers who were visibly angry and disappointed at the various train stations visited, especially at Agbarho, Okpara, Abraka and Agbor to Agenebode, could not hide their feelings against the Buhari led All Progressives Congress (APC) for inflicting such hardship on the masses who were beginning to appreciate the train as an affordable means of transportation.
To worsened the situation was the over loading of the train even as the Delta variant of the dreaded Covid 19 pandemic bits harder during this third waves in some parts of the country.
It was observed that due to the fact that the train stations officials were carried away with the so much money being made with the huge turn out of passengers, they had threw cautions to the wing allowing passengers in without any of the Covid 19 protocols being observed both at the train stations and on board.
Our Correspondent who was on board the train reports that the numbers of passengers standing in the train, especially during the peak days of Mondays and Fridays were far more than those sitting, making it impossible for the both the train supervisors and security personnel to perform their duties of checking tickets and monitoring passengers movement and safety.
In most cases, passengers who wants to take over the seats of other passengers who were dropping along the way, ended up fighting one another as there were usually arguments on who had first positioned himself or herself to take over the seat even even the passenger had not stopped.
Women, mostly expectant mothers and the aged who were embarking on rail trip, including children who were excited going on a train ride for the very first time, were not left out as they were subjected to the harrowing experience of rushing and standing over a long period of time to their destinations.
An aggrieved passengers, Comrade Abdul Danesi, an Activist, decried what he described as extortion of the masses by NRC management with this new price regime and
wondered why few individuals in position of authority would derive pleasure in seeing helpless Nigerians being subjected to further hardship, as if what they are passing through with the current economic hardship was not enough.
According to him; “What kind of country are we living self? Where government officials who are supposed to make things easier for the people are the ones deriving pleasures in compounding their problems by increasing cost of social amenities at will without a recourse to the pains being inflicted on the people”.
“This is the only legacy that Nigerians have seen and applauded President Buhari for in the last six (6) years of APC administration that the masses are enjoying and to now use it as an avenue to rip-off the people who ate currently facing serious economic hardship due to high inflation rates and mass unemployment is the height of wickedness”, he stated.
Another passenger, Mrs. Beatrice Ojeme, a secondary school teacher, described the recent arbitrary increase in the price of train as the wickedness of few against the majority who had become helpless and hopeless as a result of bad governance and insensitive politicians, adding that it has further demonstrated the hatred we have for one another as a people.
According to her; “While other nations who are sensitive to the wellbeing of their people are assisting their pains during these Covid 19 period by providing them palliatives both in cash and kind inorder to reduce the negative effects of the pandemic on them, Nigeria is busy inflicting further hardship on her citizens by increasing the only cheapest means of transportation made available to them by over 70percent and nobody is addressing it”.
“Sometimes I wonder if its a curse to be a Nigerian. This is the only country in the world where the political elites would steal billions of naira and gets away with it and at the same time inflicts so much hardship on the masses for essential services provided in order to create an avenue for other politicians to steal more”, she lamented.