Story by Seun Ibiyemi
Despite the warning by Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC over roof top riders against endangering their lives, passengers (roof top riders) have defied warning by the management that the corporation would no longer treat the offence with levity
Finding by Nigerian NewsDirect recently revealed that some passengers who are roof top riders still sit on top of the train plying Kajola and Ijoko terminals in Ogun State to Iddo terminal in Lagos State on daily basis despite the corporation’s prohibition.
Our correspondent gathered that roof top riders frequently sit on the train to drink, smoke Indian hemp, among others in Mass Transit Train (MTT) in the morning and evening when the train is moving from Iddo to ijoko
Speaking to Nigerian NewsDirect a passenger, Shodehinde Dapo, explained that some of the passenger enjoy sitting on the roof top of the train from Ijoko to Lagos in a bid to smoke, drink while some of them sit there because of the space which is not available inside the train.
“One of the reasons riders often choose to ride on the roof of the coaches are the unhygienic conditions of the coaches. Many of the coaches used for either the MTTS or the Lagos-Kano intercity shuttle are not conducive for human transportation.
“To avoid the stuffy interiors of the coaches, many passengers, therefore, make their way to the roof tops where they are certain of enjoying “fresh air,” or get themselves exposed to pilferers, who targets unsuspecting victims to disposes them of their belongings, especially cash” he revealed.
Investigation also revealed that 70 per cent of those involved in this risky ride, especially on the Iddo-Agbado route, falls within the ages of 21-35 years.
It was also discovered that 60 per cent of them are either artisans, hawkers, or those learning a trade and over 90 per cent of them are gruff. Interestingly, about 50 per cent of those who sit on trains’ rooftops have valid tickets on them.
Some of those, who spoke with Nigerian NewsDirect insisted that the uncomfortable nature of the train coaches supplied by the NRC on those routes might have been responsible for the sustained surge in the number of riders, who sit on rooftops.
Muftau, a motorcycle mechanic, who plies his trade at Iddo, said he would most times leave his seat on the Second Class coaches to sit on rooftop to escape suffocation inside the stuffy coach.
Muftau said the Second Class coaches are no better than a manger, with many of the passengers, including beggars, and all manner of stench oozing out of the coaches.
“I ride on the roof to escape the odour that comes out of the coaches at times, and though it is unsafe, I found out that I could breathe better each time I ride on the rooftop of the train,” Muftau, who has been using the MTTS train since 2011, said.
Recall that the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC last Thursday warned roof top riders against endangering their lives, saying the corporation would no longer treat the offence with levity.
Jerry Oche, the NRC Lagos District Manager, said that the corporation was not pleased with the rate at which miscreants ride on top of the moving train.
Oche said: “We are not encouraging anybody to join the train at all cost; it is not the last resort. I want you to be my customers, but I will not want you to endanger your life because of a train.
“If you are injured or dead, the society and your family will suffer the loss. The train is the cheapest means of transportation, and it is the fastest in Lagos State as far as traffic is concerned, but please there is no substitute to life.’’
According to him, the corporation will no longer take roof top riding with levity as the offenders will face the wrath of the law.
He said: “We have about 15 coaches on a train per trip with 90 people in a coach which is about 1,350 passengers on a trip at a peak period.
“Right now, most of our trains are filled up to full capacity with passengers standing, but we don’t encourage those hanging and those sitting at the roof top of a moving train.’’
He noted that the corporation had announced the termination of its Mass Transit Train Service at Agbado Station due to ongoing construction of a standard gauge.
He said that the contractors needed to move the construction materials from place to place to fast track the completion of the project.
Oche said that the operations had also received speed restrictions where the construction was taking place to avoid casualties.
He said: “So, all these challenges have hindered our full operations, especially between Agege and Iju to Agbado, where there are speed restrictions.