Entrance to the modern train station in Lagos
What a momentous day, I am penning you this piece from the belly of a moving train.
I finally got that elusive breather to hop on the much-touted Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line. No need beating about the thickets folks, this verdict is easy; the train ride is worth its very weight in gold.
The old train station was a beehive this morning. A Saturday, weekend revellers – a posse of golfers here, a bevvy of university students there – thronged the station’s dusty embankments to take the morning train, their easy comportment belied by the zing in their eyes. It is a maiden experience for most. I am one of the most.
Got my ticket in time. It is first class, I am gunning for the head of the pack, top luxury.
When the boarding call sounded and I headed in, the blasted chill from the cooling system almost frosted my curious nostrils. It was love at first breath. The known smell of new things wafted all around me. Easy wonder; the train is new, smelling like the forest doused in morning dew.
I traversed the cabin aisles to my allotted seat, I am greeted with pockets of the mundane; passengers chucking in light and heavy luggage into the racks above; the band of golfers – from earlier – swarm around steamy cups at the first-class mini bar, their bonhomie chatter – interspersed with boisterous jeers and courteous sneers – thaw at the piercing cold. All around me, elation abounded, complete with discernible relief behind those weary eyes of many years and the misery road travel had been.
The entire length of the train track is periodically punctuated by finished or near-finished ancillary rail infrastructure; train stations, bridges, overpasses and underpasses etc. They all mesh into this efficient transport machinery that shortens the distance between the two commercial cities of Lagos and Ibadan. Now, easing into Ibadan for a hot plate of the green, yellow and red couldn’t have been any fancier.
As the train chuckles on, I can not seem to extricate my train of thoughts from what a functional rail system can delineate about the future. The opportunities are as plentiful as the froth in an ocean wave.
The revolution has started, I am an avowed believer. Tomorrow, I will chime a new tune and proselytize. Nigeria is coming of age and the long journey starts here, one train at a time.
~ Jamaal Sheeth. Convener HBN Business Meets NigeriansShare