Oya come and see o!
It’s not only you people that have nice trains. See our own here. Kaduna to Abuja. We’re not easy. I entered it this morning. Life!! In fact, Federal government of Nigeria wanted to finish us today.
At Kaduna airport, there were free buses conveying people to Abuja. Many buses like that. Come and see people boarding. But me, I wanted to experience the train service as I never enter train for Naija before.
As I lingered at the exit, unsure of what to do, a man in uniform asked where I was going. When I said I wanted to take the train to Abuja, he said there were free buses conveying people to the station but it had already left with passengers. Another man approached me and said he was a cab driver. I asked him how far the station was. He said not too much. This was about 8.20am and ‘not too much’ could turn out to be a one hour ride. We argued back and forth, then I said, “Let’s go.” His name was Mohammed and his car was a small, black Golf car. He was speeding as though he was on a race track, while at the same time cussing other drivers for driving too fast. The road became very gravel-ly at a point and I feared he’d lose control of the steering. I kept exclaiming, “Take it easy o, take it easy o,” and he kept replying, “Don’t worry madam. I know the road very well.”
We arrived at the station in one piece. A man in a kaftan with a green apron over it [great fashion sense there!] grabbed my suitcase and we ran up the stairs. I thrust out my ticket, they waved me through and I ran into the coach that was reserved for passengers coming from the airport. At exactly 9.09 a.m. the train pulled off.
Clean, spacious coaches. Air conditioned. Television sets. Windows with nice blinds. Two ladies selling snacks [even though I was hungry and wanted food]. Nice scenery outside. But, sha, the train was slow. Two whole hours, same amount of time it would have taken to go by road. I forgot to mention the heavy presence of gun-toting security personnel – Mopol, Police, Army, Civil Defence, sniffing dogs. Every coach had about two security personnel manning it, all looking professional and non-threatening.
A lovely experience altogether but a sharp contrast to the Port Harcourt-Aba service which a friend had used in December, 2016. According to the account which she posted on her Facebook timeline, what would have been a comfortable ride was marred by over-crowded coaches and smelly toilets! There was also no first class coach. It had been moved to Enugu because there was more money to be made on that route.
We arrived Kubwa in Abuja at about 11.00 am.
But it won’t be Naija if there had been no drama to cap the day. No be us again? We no dey carry last naa. As we alighted at Kubwa, a scream rang out. Shouts. Loud voices. Hurried movements. A young woman was lying on the ground, un-speaking, eyes wide, one leg bleeding. It turns out that a dog owned by the Civil Defence had pushed her down and sunk its teeth into her leg. You could see the set of teeth marks against her flesh. The dog and its handler stood close by, with the handler looking surprised? shocked? afraid? I can’t give words to the look on his face. The dog – a black and brown mix whose breed I can’t put a name to – was…well…just being a dog – straining against its leash, tongue out, barking, perhaps angry that it wasn’t allowed to finish what it started. A girl of about five years old, who seemed to have witnessed the attack, was crying softly as she clutched her father’s hand. I heard somebody say, “This is the second time…” He didn’t continue but I put two and two together. Seems like the Civil Defence has very exuberant dogs. Or maybe, as my sister said when I narrated the incident to her, the dog hadn’t been fed!
A crowd had gathered around the young lady and in typical Naija way, advice about what she should do or not do was flying around for free. A day of freebies indeed. But that is one of the things I love about us – the way we rally round people in need even if they’re strangers. At such times, you can bet there’d be a pick pocket hovering around but there would be many other people offering help and comfort. Me sef, I follow put mouth. I approached a man who looked like the oga and told him they needed to take her to a hospital for anti-tetanus injection. But an elderly Hausa man, who was visibly upset at the incident, didn’t quite agree. “Not tetanus,” he said vehemently. “Let her take anti-rabid, if not, it will enter her head and she will start barking like a dog.” It wasn’t funny but I smiled.
Back to the lady, a Mobile Police man was massaging the bleeding leg. Then, he started to wipe the blood off with a dirty rag. I expected somebody to appear with a sachet of pure water, bite off the tip and give the lady to drink. You know us nau. When people have been involved in accidents or similar situations, somebody go just take small water wash their face, come pour the rest for their head. Sigh! Dear fellow Nigerians, water is not first aid. When people are going through trauma, please keep them warm so they don’t go into shock.
I fished out my almost-finished roll of tissue paper and gave the girl’s mother/aunt. [Thank God for the contents of a woman’s bag.] The Mopol asked for tissue to wipe the blood off his hands. I said, “No. You don’t need tissue. You need to wash your hands thoroughly.” He went away but not before looking at me one-kind. Soon, a woman in a green apron appeared with a first-aid kit and set to work. Oga-looking bros was appealing to the crowd for calm. People started to disperse. I picked up my luggage and waked away.