The need for the Federal Government to do more to revive the rail sector has again come to the fore, as thousands of persons arrive Osun State with the ‘Aregbesola Free Yuletide Train Ride’.
They say a good rail system will alleviate the suffering of the people and save lives from auto crashes on the nation’s highways.
As the over 2,000 persons, who benefitted from the free train ride arrived in Osun State on Saturday, encomium poured out for Governor Rauf Aregbesola for putting in place the scheme to assist the less privileged.
The train, which took off from Lagos State terminal at about 11:00 a.m. moved through Abeokuta, Ibadan and Ede and finally arrived in Osogbo around 7:00 p.m.
The Director of Commerce and Investment Promotion in the Osun State Ministry of Industries, Commerce, Cooperative and Empowerment, Mrs Mary Asaolu, told reporters that the free train was a means of easing transport issues of people who are interested in returning home for any festive season but are financially incapacitated.
She said: “Actually, this Aregbesola Free Train Ride started in 2001 by the administration of the governor and it has been on since then. So, far 93,000 people have benefited from this free train ride and it comes on during festive periods either Ileya which is the celebration of Sallah or Christmas for Christians. The aim is just to make life better for our people.
“You can see that they are very happy, as they descend from the train. For many of them, the road fare has gone up as far as 3,000 to 4,000 Naira to come down home, but with this free train, they have been able to come home to celebrate with their family members. About 2,210 people came with this train.
“During Ileya period we have the highest population and Government has provided for that number of coaches.
“The rial system is the safest and majority of these people have to come home with their children and their goods. If they have to go by road, how much will they be paying? It will be exorbitant for them. Besides, there is less accident using the rail system. This is why the government has opted for this to use to bring the people home.”
“By the coming home of this people, the economy of Osun is bound to improve. When they were coming down from the train, I saw someone with tiles and another with foods. Many have come to sell these items and that is the aim of the government.
“This is why we have Dagbolu Market to be the hub of the state.
Adeoye Oluwaseyi is one of those who boarded the train from Lagos. He says “the governor has really tried for us, we are only hoping that whoever will take over from him will continue this same scheme because we really love this.
“I can only advise other governments particularly the Federal Government to revive our ailing train system. It is a good means of transportation.
“I decided to come with the train because there is very terrible hold up on the road at this period and the rail system I must say is very safe. Above all, the recession period is one other major reason for coming with the train. I cannot spend the huge fare transporters are asking for. It is a good thing that the governor has done for us and we must really commend him for this gesture”.
For Godwin Oyelowo, the train ride was his first experience. He told Channels Television that he was so happy to have benefited from the Aregbesola Free Train Ride.
“This is the first time I will be taking the train ride from Lagos to Osun. I heard about it and I decided to try it out. It is a wonderful experience. This government has really tried and they should not stop what have started at all,” he appealed.
Then train is expected to lift passengers back to Lagos from Osogbo on December 27.