What could have been a tragedy of monumental proportions was averted on Friday when a 12-coach train reportedly carrying over 1,000 passengers and traveling from Ogun State to Apapa in Lagos, derailed at the Shina Peters end of Iju.
The incident, which occurred around 11:00am, however, ended in sighs of relief as there was no casualty, thanks largely to the heap of rubbish close to the track, which helped in breaking down the speed of the train.
One of the passengers on the train, an employee of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, blamed the rail track for the accident, saying it was due for rehabilitation.
He said “It was the rail track that caused the derailment of the train because anytime I’m on board; I feel the coaches dance on the rail line. It didn’t just start today or yesterday, it has been going on for a long time. We thank God because the train was not moving too fast when the incident occurred, otherwise, there would have been casualties”.
Another passenger, who boards the train daily, said the casualties could have been high had the accident occurred at a peak period – when people were leaving home for work in the morning or returning home in the evening.
“I follow the train every day and you know how our trains are filled up at peak periods between 6.30am and 8.30am and in the evening, with so many people hanging precariously on them.
“If the accident had occurred at such times, some people would surely have died”, she said.
Speaking under the condition of anonymity, an official of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, confirmed that the accident was caused by bad rail tracks.
The official said, “The train was coming from Ijoko, and had passed Oposuru, Itoki, Agbado and was at Iju when it derailed. It happened because the tracks are bad.
“But there was no sign (it would happen) except that the coaches were shaking and the train was slow. At least, over a thousand passengers were on board the train but no casualty was recorded.
“I doubt that any train would work again today. The Kano-bound trip would also be cancelled. We operate just a rail line. If we had about six lines like they have in developed countries, we would have just switched to another line and operations would have commenced immediately”.
The official further blamed the poor state of rail tracks in the country on mismanagement and sabotage by some corrupt persons.