The Federal Government on Friday announced the approved charges on the new Lagos-Ibadan rail standard gauge which is billed to commence operation in January 2021.
The announcement was made by the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi during the inauguration of the Governing Council of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria in Abuja.
Amaechi said the transport fare from Ibadan to Lagos will cost from N3,000 to N6,000, a replica of the Abuja-Kaduna model.
“I have received the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate the Lagos/Ibadan rail project by January 2021, which will make Nigerians see the way the standard gauge railway looked like.
“Today I approved the charges on passengers from Lagos to Ibadan, we just transfer how we charged from Abuja to kaduna. We charge N3,000 per Economy seat, N5,000 for Business class, and N6,000 for first class, the same is applicable to Lagos to Ibadan.
“It should have started running by now before Mr. President inaugurates it by January,” the Minister said.
He added that there will be collaboration between the Ministry of Transport and the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIOTA) to achieve the objective.
However, the announcement has not gone down well with Nigerians, who took to social media to register their displeasure.
“How can rail transport cost 3,000 from Lagos to Ibadan, who are the people advising these oga dem sef, your closest competitor is road transport. How much does it cost to move with that from Lagos to Ibadan, half the price then you’re in business,” a Twitter handle wrote.
Amaechi said the goal of the Transport Ministry is to bring the Lagos-Ibadan fares in tandem with the Abuja-Kaduna model, even though the distance and circumstances differ.
Abuja-Kaduna road is a distance of 189.4 km that takes about 2h 55 min to cover by road. Given the current security situation on the highway, there is willingness to pay among commuters as the fare is way cheaper than potential ransom. Kidnappers have overrun the highway, making rail transport and flights the only safe alternative for travellers.
On the other hand, Lagos-Ibadan is a 132km trip that can be covered in less than 3 hours, depending on the highway’s traffic. Therefore, the announced train charges seem unacceptable because the road transport to Ibadan is operational and cheaper.
“I know some blockheads will still come and defend it but the train ticket from Lagos to Ibadan shouldn’t go for anything more than 1,500 for the economy class. What then is the essence of the railway if it’s not affordable? How much is the minimum wage that one would pay 6k to & fro?” Wale Adetona wrote on Twitter.
With a commercial 18-seater bus, the cost of transport from Lagos to Ibadan ranges from N800 to N1,500, while smaller vehicles that offer more comfort charge from N2,000 to N3,000.
Globally, rail transportation offers ‘cheaper’ alternatives to road transport, a reason believed to be behind the federal government’s move to reintroduce trains to Nigeria’s transport sector. Therefore, Nigeria’s minimum wage of N30,000 monthly defies the logic behind N3,000 for 132km train ride.
Upon the conception of the Lagos-Ibadan light rail gauge initiative, many workers in Lagos began to entertain the idea of working in Lagos while living in Ibadan to save them the crazy cost of accommodation. But following this development, that idea seems more like the many dreams Nigerians have that would never come to pass.
“Lagos to Ibadan train services prices are out. It is 3k economy seat, 5k business seat and 6k first class. If you do economy and plan to live in Ibadan and work in Lagos, that means N6,000 a day and N180,000 a month. On transport alone. There’s no hope for the poor,” Dr. Olufunmilayo wrote on Twitter in response to the development.
Nigerians believe the exorbitant ticket charges are as a result of the Transport Ministry’s desperation to generate fund for the repayment of the Chinese loan used to fund the rail project, and it would cause more harm than good.