Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Lagos to Kano train..

We met a photographer last night who told the story of his recent trip on the Lagos to Kano railway line. The train is supposed to leave weekly from Lagos on Friday at midday. Not expecting the train to leave on time, Jide nevertheless turned up before 12 just in case.

The train finally left on Saturday. At 5pm.

On the journey, Jide met traders with many stories to tell. People were transporting Kola nuts, cloth and so on to the North. Even though the journey is long and unreliable, it is a safer option than using the roads. You can't get run over and there are no armed robbers. Apparently, there used to be armed hold-ups, but the train is so unreliable that the robbers gave up to move on to more reliable prey.

Lagos-Kano is perhaps 1500 miles. However, after 5 days and nights of travel, the train had only got as far as Minna, where Jide got off.

So - the railway as it is at the moment is an heroic experience. But with plans for major external investment in rail infrastructure in the next few years, Nigeria could be utterly transformed by a nation-wide network.


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