Train passengers in Lagos have expressed their displeasure at the high fare being charged by the Nigerian Railway Corporation on the air-conditioned Diesel Multiple Unit (train shuttling between Iddo in Lagos State and Kajola in Ogun State).
They said the disparity in the fares between the DMU and the Mass Transit Train was much. They therefore called for a reduction in the DMU fare.
As observed by our correspondent during a visit to one of the train stations in Lagos, while passengers on the Diesel Multiple Unit pay N750, those using the Mass Transit Train pay N230.
However, the fares are fixed for both trains and they operate on flat rate, meaning that passengers dropping at various stations such as Yaba, Mushin, Oshodi, Shogunle Ikeja, Agege, Iju, Agbado, Itoki, Oposuru, Ijoko and Kajola, all pay the same fare.
According to the Public Relation Officer, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Mrs Khadijah Aroyewum-Adekomaiya, the trains’ departure time is 6:30am for Agbado to Apapa, while the one for Ijoko leaves at 7am.
She said the evening train had been scheduled to move from Iddo to Ijoko by 5:30pm, while the train moving from Apapa to Ijoko leaves by 6:30pm.
Some passengers who spoke with our correspondent stated that the difference in fares between the two trains had created the feeling that the DMU was designed for the rich while the MTT was for the poor.
A woman selling wears at the Oshodi Market, Busola Kehinde, complained that the fares for both trains were an evidence of the margin between the rich and the poor in the society.
She said it was also evident in the 12 to 13 coaches that the MTT had and the four or five coaches for the DMU.
Another passenger, Emeka Okorodudu said that out of curiosity he had to ride on the DMU and sincerely wished the government would upgrade the MTT if there were no plans to reduce the fare of the DMU.
He said most people preferred to board the train because they considered it to be faster than road transportation, where they encountered heavy traffic especially during the peak period.
“Lagos and other major cities are known for gridlock. That is why many of us use the train. I think the minister of transportation should ensure that the bad seats on the trains, air conditioners and windows covered with nylon are all fixed to make the journey with the MTT comfortable,” Okorodudu said.
A banker, who identified himself as Alex, said the DMU was very conducive as the seats were comfortable and the air conditioners working perfectly.
“The MTT also runs fast but not as fast as the DMU which makes you feel at home. The bad windows in the MTT make it so unbearable when there is a heavy rain as the shield does nothing in terms of protection for the passengers,” he added.
According to him, train breakdown is something they experience on the MTT, though not all the time.
Alex urged the NRC to put a stop to those staying on rooftop of the train as this was becoming a common sight in Lagos.
The Deputy Director, Public Relations, NRC, Yakubu Mahmood, reacting to complaints of high DMU fare, said that it was optional for the passengers to either take the MTT or the DMU, depending on their pocket.