Monday, February 13, 2017 3:59 pm
By Ebelo Goodluck
I’m on the 10:40 am Kaduna- Abuja train. Did the first leg on Saturday afternoon. Initial impressions: clean, cool , almost exhilarating: my first in my country. The usual Nigerian BS are present, though. Some guy, in a staff uniform, came to me and begged if he could use my bag to secure the two seats opposite me for “somebody” yet to board . He ran into a chorus of condemnation from all within hearing distance. He retreated.
The waiting area in the Kaduna Station is rather small, and the security is rather poor compared to Abuja. Even in Abuja, last Saturday, I accosted a security staff who won’t screen the lady in front of me as we go to board, because according to him, “there was no woman” to do the frisking. But when I told him he should make the passenger wait until she is screened, the lady turned to look at him. She was all covered up, so I couldn’t see her eyes. There was a Police man going by lazily with his oversized gun on Saturday. Today, I saw another with his mouth wide-open in sleep in a tiny compartment near the exit. Whipped out my camera, but changed my mind.
The Chinese have not only loaned us the money to build, it seems they would be here for sometime running the show. They would extract a huge management fee for their troubles: there isn’t much difference to Western or Chinese capital. The pricing is cheap. My economy ticket is a thousand fifty. The Business Class is only 450 naira costlier. These are early days, but it is nonsense to price this service this ridiculously low. Except we have somehow divined that we won’t be paying back the billions of dollars the Chinese have put up, or the rest of the country would be subsidising us.
The Railway Corporation should get Glo to run its 4G network on this line. Wifi defangs the tedium. I remember joining the brickbat of the election night of Osun State on board the train service from Baltimore to catch my flight in New York. Why Glo? It’s Nigerian.
The trains are slow but i’m told it’s because the route has not been secured from cattle and the few villages on the route. There would be an express service at some point. Slow or not, wont drive to Kaduna again.
It’s something to build on. Just before we left, the uniformed staff showed up with two bags and two “somebodies”. Of course, the seat with a table and charging port was gone. We ensured that .
Ebelo Goodluck, formerly a member of staff of TheNEWS, writes from Abuja