“Don’t climb, don’t climb” were the words of the old train driver when he saw some young boys climbing the train. They knew it was wrong but they still did it, they knew how dangerous it was but they still did it, they knew how live claiming it could be yet they venture into it, and have continued in it, making it a part of their lives. But has anyone stopped to ponder about the dangers inherent in indulging in this unruly act?
It has become a new craze in town for the young and old to jettison the normal train ride from inside the coaches to riding on the roofs. This is even as the roof of the train is sloppy, and could hardly steady any major weight. But the discomfort and dangers notwithstanding, Lagosians continue to ride on the roofs of trains.
From Ikeja to Onyigbo, to Ojota to Apapa and other major railway routes, these dare devil roof riders have permanently become unrepentant, not even the deaths recorded so far in such activities, have dissuaded these people from this life threatening activity.
Recently, the Minister of Transport, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, while addressing a symposium, lamented the deadly activities of those who ride the train through the roof, calling on the authorities of the Nigerian Railway Corporation to put an end to the act, which is capable of truncating lives or causing permanent disability.
Amaechi’s directive came in the wake of deaths that have so far been recorded, and the nasty image of the country which it portrays.
What has been difficult to understand is why someone will knowingly indulge in something he is very sure will kill him. Is it an act of rebellion, and rebellion against who?
Some have complained that they get involved in train roof riding because of paucity of funds. They said that they do not have the required fee for the ride, so they preferred to toe the cheap path, and that is the follow the roof.
Some revelations even have it that some of these riders pay a token to mount the roof; a token that is collected by those whose identities cannot be ascertain. That is whether they are railway officials or touts. But like one of the riders carelessly intoned; ‘no bi for free’.
While it has been difficult for the railway authorities to curb the menace on their own, time therefore, has come for an appropriate legislation against the act. The proposed legislation should specify fines or jail terms for offenders, and not only that appropriate task forces should be put in place to both dissuade would be offenders, and punish (on the spot) offenders.
More so, agencies such as Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI), LAMATA and any other relevant agency should be mandated and empowered to carry out arrest wherever such impunity is discovered.
It is imperative for people to understand that the act is capable of cutting short lives or maiming the individual. As a result, this malicious and unwarranted act needs to be curbed before it really gets out of hand and beyond control. It is believed that the Lagos State government will look into this as quickly as possible so as to avoid further loss of lives, and baseless blames against the government.
The government, on its part, apart from legislation, should provide more and affordable transportation, granting the fact that not everyone who mounts the roof of a train wishes to do so, but did out exigency. It is therefore, believed that with the provision of more government sponsored vehicles for transportation, these dare devil riders will have a rethink when next they attempt to risk their lives.
Again, scapegoat has to be made of some offenders to serve as a deterrent to other would-be offenders.
It will also be a welcome development if the government, corporate organizations and well meaning Nigerians take it upon themselves to organize seminars and orientations courses to sensitize the public on the dangers inherent in train roof riding.
Howbeit, that the government failed to live up to expectation as in providing basic amenities for its citizens does not in any way means that one should put his own life in danger. It is just one life to live, and there is no one who was ever crushed by a train that return to tell the tale. Much is a death is death, it is imperative for everyone to be wise.