Diary Of A Commuter: Traveling From Kaduna To Abuja By Train
I stood quietly in the queue, awaiting my turn to buy a ticket for the journey from Kaduna to Abuja, the Federal capital territory.
There were about 15 people ahead of me in the queue. A colleague who was there before me explained that he couldn’t get a ticket on my behalf because every passenger needed to show a form of Identification before purchasing a ticket.
I joined the queue around 9 AM. After about 10 minutes, it was my turn to purchase a ticket. Surprisingly, the ticket seller did not request for any form of identification from me, even though he did ask the person in front of me.
From there we moved to the passengers waiting room. Inside the waiting room, I observed that majority of travelers were busy making or receiving calls since there was no television or any other form of public entertainment in the space.
My colleague and I sat quietly, waiting for the journey to begin.
But being an innately curious man, I decided to scrutinize the crowd. I observed that the majority of the passengers were mostly elites a.k.a top government officials, their wives, and children.
In fact, the newly appointed Counselor on Information to Kaduna State Governor, Saidu Adamu, joined us in the waiting room.
Around 10 AM we were asked to join another queue for boarding. We moved out of the waiting room to join the other passengers outside.
It was while on the line that I heard other passengers talking about seat number. I brought out my ticket to check. I discovered that my ticket was in SP3 seat number 81 while that of my colleague was the same SP3 but seat number 51.
We were not happy to be separated because we wanted our first travel by train to be a closely shared experience.
Yes by train! Let me welcome you to Rigasa Train Station located in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna, northwest Nigeria.
The station was commissioned months back by the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, even though President Goodluck Jonathan’s government initiated the project.
Rigasa train station has now become a darling to many, particularly to elites and their family members. No thanks, to increase cases of kidnapping around Kaduna-Abuja highway.
Despite measures taken by the Nigerian Police and Military authorities that resulted to massive deployment of security along the highway, still, the majority of the elites and their families have abandoned road travel for the safety of the rail.
After we boarded, I saw other passengers searching for their seat number, one after the other. Some mistakenly or intentionally sat on other passenger’s seats. But the moment the real owner came they quietly left to search for their seat(s).
But for some others, it required the intervention of the train officials to ask them to move to their seats. The overwhelming sense of entitlement this group showed while doing the wrong thing is quite embarrassing to observe.
“Sorry sir, but this is my seat number 88. Can you please move to your seat?” a young lady ask a fellow passenger.
“This is my seat too because my ticket carried the same number,” came the reply.
It took the intervention of an official and some other passengers for the man to leave the seat for her.
From the loud argument, we learned that he was supposed to be in Couch SP2, which means he was even on a wrong couch in the first place.
“I think the officials need to be directing people to their right seats instead of asking people to look for the seats themselves,” a woman sitting next to me said.
After all the sitting arrangements were cleared, we embarked on the journey at exactly 10:40 AM.
Few minutes into the trip, some officials of the Nigeria Railway Corporation carried out ticket inspection.
Passengers were asked to show their travel ticket to ensure its authenticity.
As we journeyed onward, I starred out the window to look at the villages deep inside the surrounding forest along the railway line. I wondered how and when development would get to those communities.
I was soon drawn back to reality.
The interior of the train was impressive. The seats were comfortable even for tall people like yours truly. Each coach had air conditions to make the passengers comfortable. There were also people selling snacks and drinks inside the train.
Police officers stationed inside the train moved around with AK 47 riffle. This was quite uncomfortable.
The journey went on smoothly, as we made a brief stop at sub- stations like Dutse, Rijana, Jere, Asham, Kubwa and Idu, which is the last station one the Kaduna-Abuja route.
The trained arrived Abuja at precisely 1: 30 PM.
For the love of riding the train, we were back at Idu station to book a return ticket after spending two nights in the capital city where I attended a conference.
We arrived the station at precisely 10:10 AM even though we were told the train would not be available until 12 PM.
This time around we [my colleague and I] wanted to ensure that we got a seat together. So we came to the station early to give us enough time to buy tickets at the same time. We were on point. Our returned seat numbers were 6 and 7 on SP 2.
At exactly 12:30 PM the journey back home began.
It was quite a memorable experience.
Traveling from Abuja to Kaduna or vice versa by train is safe, cost-effective and gives one the opportunity to see beautiful landmarks of this great nation.