Nigerians have expressed disapproval to the fare announced by the Federal Government for the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge rail line, which begins operations today.
Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi had announced, on Friday, that tickets for the route would be N3,000 for Economy Class, N5,000 for Business Class and N6,000 for First Class.
The social media, especially Twitter, has been on fire since the announcement with Nigerians blasting the Federal Government for what many called the “inordinately high fares”.
Amaechi had said the Federal Government would apply the same template like the one used on the Abuja to Kaduna route, which has been in operation since June 2017, to justify the fares.
But Nigerians urged the Federal Government to reconsider the price, saying the Abuja-Kaduna route is longer than the Lagos-Ibadan, and that the former is used mostly by politicians and captains of industries.
They argued that Lagos to Ibadan rail line is going to be used, mostly by the masses, majority of whom cannot afford the fares.
According to them, the fare for the Lagos-Ibadan, and vice versa, by road, is N1,000, which is far cheaper than the Economy Class fare of the rail line.
A twitter user with the handle @Dekunle said the train is better if it offers more than the common rail service to enable the government get ggod patronage.
Ikechukwu, with the twitter handle @iykimo, asked a rhetorical question: “Isn’t rail transport the cheapest anymore? Lagos to Ibadan is N3k, N6k for executive suite.”
Yet, another Twitter user, AkureCityHunter, with the handle @AkureCityHunter, said: “I will pay N3k from Lagos to Ibadan and I’d still be in the economy? Well, that economy better have a PS5, free Netflix and some KFC delicacies.”
Also, Real HusbandMaterial, with the handle @AdorableProduct, did a comparison of the Lagos-Ibadan by road from Berger to Ibadan.
According to him, the journey costs between N2,000 and N2,500 for a car carrying three passengers, while park and pick (popularly called soo’le) is N1,000; a 14-seater passenger bus is N1,500, while an 18-seater bus collects between N700 and N1000.
Another critic, using @Naija_PR, said: “How can rail transport cost N3,000 from Lagos to Ibadan? Who are the people advising these ogas? Your closest competitor is road transport. Why can’t they cut this price by half? Half the price and you are in business.”
Proposing a masses-friendly train price regime, Bhadoosky, writing with the handle @Bhadmus Akeem, noted that a much more friendly regime would be N900 for Economy, N1,800 for Business Class and N2,400 for First Class.
“Anything short of this, it is you and the political class that will be boarding the train,” he tweeted.
Chief Ola Agbebayo, an Abeokuta-based business executive, said the new fare regime is a huge disappointment to a lot of Nigerians.
He wondered why the government took the price away from the masses who the train is meant to serve.
“All over the world, the train is the cheapest form of transportation and everyone who has travelled outside the country would attest to this fact. It is a means of last resort for many, whether resident or migrant. Same should be replicated here. The government has no reason to raise the fare above the reach of the average Nigerians, since it was constructed with borrowed funds which they are still going to repay,” Agbebayo said.
A Lagos State civil servant, who spoke in confidence, noted that with the fare, the government has shown its preference for the particular passengers it would like to convey on the route.
“If you factor in the fact that Ibadan is merely a transit town from which many would still connect their various communities, then the transportation cost element of their journey is better left imagined as it could only lead to avoidable spikes,” he said.