Over-crowded Lagos train services exposed to COVID-19 strain
Passengers on the Lagos-Ijoko-Lagos daily passenger train services are at risk of exposure to the coronavirus pandemic following the collapse of strict enforcement by the Nigeria Railway authorities on one hand and adherence to stipulated COVID-19 protocols by the commuters.
Not only are the passengers exposed to the ravaging deadly scourge of coronavirus, checks by BusinessDay reveal that transportation cost of from the Iddo terminus to the final destination at Ijoko has gone up from N230 to N460 with the passenger cabins overcrowded and some of them hanging on top of the coaches.
The latest dangers posed by the colossal breakdown of compliance to COVID-19 protocol along the Lagos-Ijoko corridor may be one out of many contraventions to lay down guidelines of passenger train services around the corridor.
Recall that while the coronavirus rages, the Nigerian Railway Corporation put in place a number safety guidelines and necessary protocols to be observed by all passengers on the Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge passenger services.
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While NRC decontaminated all train stations and rolling stocks last year in readiness to commencement of full passenger operations, strict adherence to appropriate use of face mask throughout any journey duration were emphasized.
Safety protocols demands that passengers travel with their own alcohol-based hand sanitizers which must be 90 percentages alcohol-based as neither the federal government nor the Nigeria Railway Corporation will provide sanitizers for the passengers.
All persons at the NRC facilities must observe social distance of minimum of two metres even while on board the train including strict observance to social distancing on board, which stipulates that passengers must sit on their allocated seats. There shall be no changing of seats.
For many years, security inside the train has remained a major concern. The Lagos to Ijoko passenger train services on daily basis has to contend with indiscriminate movement/loitering while on board despite the presence of security personnel on the service including the Police, the Nigerian Civil Defense and Security Corps (NCDSC) and Man-O-War (MOW).
Nationwide, the rail sector despite its potential for curtailing perennial chaotic transport situation in a mega city like Lagos remains inefficient and underutilized. And despite attempts by the Lagos state government to provide a mass transit service for the millions of commuters, the share of rail as a mode of transportation has not been encouraging.