Passengers have de
scribed the Port Harcourt Enugu train services as a great relief and a welcome development by the Federal Government.
A cross section of passengers who spoke with The Tide correspondent at the Port Harcourt Raiway terminal along station bus-stop on Monday said since the inauguration of the services, they have been enjoying their daily trips to and from routes and at lower transport costs.
According to them, the rehabilitation of the railway transport system in the country has given the transportation sector a boost and a step forward the transformation agenda.
A petty trader, Mrs Nnene Okoro said since the reintroduction of train services, her movement from Oyigbo to Port Harcourt had been enhanced and a boost to her business as she pays a little sum of money as transport fare with her goods and no time wasted while coming with the train.
Mrs Okoro commended the Federal Government for putting smiles on their faces and called for its sustainance.
Another trader, who only gave her name as Mama Patie said the re-introduction of train movement within the Eastern part of the country is a welcomed development as it had helped in the movement of goods and services without much pains.
According to her, many passengers that ply the route are very happy as it is a great relief that needed commendation.
Mr Francis Obilor, a staff of Oyigbo Local Government Council said his going to work from Port Harcourt had been made easier, as he boards the train every Tuesdays and Fridays to his working place.
Obilor thanked the Federal Government for its transformation agenda on transport sector, and urged them to keep up the tempo.
Another passenger, madam Ngozi Onyedika said she enjoys travelling by train because of its convenience, safety and timeliness and also enjoined the authorities to ensure that the dream was sustained for the masses to fell the benefits of democracy.
It would be recalled that the commencement of Rail Transport service on the Eastern Line, specifically the flag-off of Enugu – Port Harcourt – Enugu Intercity train service was commissioned by the Vice President, Arch Namadi Sambo on December 23, 2014.
Daura Community Expresses Excitement Over Transport University
The indigenes of Daura, Katsina State, have expressed excitement at the groundbreaking/construction of the University of Transport in their community.
Some members of the community who spoke to newsmen shortly after the ground breaking ceremony last Monday, said that the construction of an additional higher institute of learning in the town was long overdue.
They, however, thanked the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for making their dream come true.
The Galadima of Daura, Alhaji Ahmad Diddiri, said other than the secondary schools, the community had only one higher institution, the College of Legal Studies.
Diddiri said: “Education means power basically and the government has put in so much effort to build sufficient education for our people.
“Now, this is another big development for our people, having a university at our door step. We will be able to have more graduates, more trained people in our community and country.
“This is not only for Daura area alone. Our aspiration is for our children to not only be educated but smarter; they should know how to behave.” He further said the institution would alleviate suffering of the people in the community and reduce the cost of acquiring knowledge.
Another indigene of Daura, Mr Yusuf Ibrahim, said the institution would boost the income and economy of the people of the state and its environs.
He said it was a thing of joy that the state would be privileged to have a specialised university.
He thanked the Federal Government for the initiative, saying that it would benefit not only the people of the state but the nation as a whole.
Mr Abubakar Abubakar who was also excited by the transport university, said: ”there is going to be more income for the people around the area and more of our people are going to be educated.
“Our people will be more empowered and basically, it will translate to a better way of life for our children.
Traffic Congestion: Commuters Resort To Rail Transport
As road traffic congestion along Port Harcourt-Aba expressway bites harder, due to the on-going construction of flyovers at Rumuogba (artillery) and Rebisi (Garrison), commuters especially traders from Aba have resorted to the use of rail transport as an alternative means to road transportation.
The Tide reports that the deplorable condition of Oyigbo-Aba express way and the total neglect of the road by the Federal Government coupled with the on-going construction of two flyovers at artillery and garrison junctions by the Rivers State Government, has reinvigorated the patronage of the moribund rail transport system in the state.
The Tide’s investigation revealed that Aba traders are mostly the people patronising the rail transport more, giving the reason that it is safer and cheaper.
Speaking to The Tide, Emeka Ijebe, a passenger on board the train transport service from Aba to Port Harcourt wanted the train services to extend from Port Harcourt to the northern part of the country.
According to him, I joined train about two years ago to the north, but surprisingly now, they said they could no longer extend to the north and other parts of the country except Port Harcourt to Aba. To me, they should improve on their services, the condition of the coaches are very bad and the whole environment is unconducive, it is just because it is cheaper in cost of transportation and a bit safer.”
To John Ama, a trader from Aba and a passenger on board the train coach, “this is the first time I am joining the train due to the heavy road traffic congestion we are experiencing along Aba-Port Harcourt expressway due to bad road, especially around Oyigbo. To me, everything about the train is very poor “
Mrs Agnes Egbe, also a passenger and a business woman on board the train, said: “everything is wrong; the environment is so unconductive, the train, the coaches everywhere is dirty, the seat, nothing is good about it. It is just that it is cheap and the roads are bad and we have no alternative”.
However, Jude Ofoegbu, another passenger, “we are enjoying it, you can see us, this place is better than the road, this rail line is safer. When you stay here, you don’t have any problem, you can see everything is moving, everybody is free, the only challenge we have is that the train is very old. If government can provide new one for us, we will be fine”.
The Tide gathered that before now, the rail services operated from Port Harcourt to other parts of the country, especially northern states, but is now restricted to Port Harcourt-Aba with a fare of N200 only. The train stops intermittently at five points before reaching the station, a delay most passengers found uncomfortable.
Residents Seek Govt’s Attention On Chokota-Ikwerrengwo-Umuebule Road
Road users and residents across Chokota, Ikwerrengwo and Umuebule Communities, all in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State, have decried the deplorable condition of the road linking the three communities, appealing to the state government for immediate attention.
Speaking to The Tide at the weekend, at Umuebulu, a community leader, Donatus Nweke, regretted that despite several promises to rehabilitate the road, nothing visible had been done.
He appealed to the state government to urgently repair the road and alleviate the harsh economic hardship the bad road has subjected them to.
Nweke explained : “Umuebule has the largest population and in fact, half of Etche population with more than 75 oil wells, but we are very surprised that all the oil companies, federal and state governments and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), neglected us after several meetings and appeals to them. It is too bad”.
He said that the affected communities would not relent in appealing and bringing the attention of the state government to the bad state of the road until the state road maintenance agency was drafted to remediate the road.
One of the traders in the market, Uche Agbaoso, told The Tide: “because of the bad road, my business has been affected badly. I have two vehicles but I am not using anyone. Our customers are no more buying our goods because of the inaccessibility of the road, we are suffering and we need government intervention”.
Another road user in the area, Emma Udoh narrated an ugly incident he witnessed on the road sometime ago. He said: “I saw Okada rider carrying a pregnant woman recently and both of them fell into the pothole due to the bad road. The woman eventually lost the baby. We are calling on the government and all relevant agencies to help us fix the road”.
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