The beneficiaries of the regular free train service being provided by the Government of the State of Osun during festive periods, have called on the Federal Government to expedite action and quicken the extension of the ongoing standard gauge railway project to Osun and Kwara states.
This, according to the beneficiaries would go along way to reposition the most popular means of transportation and complement the efforts of the Osun government to restore the lost glory of the rail transportation system in the country.
This is even as the train on Sunday returned over 2000 holiday makers, who had stormed the state to celebrate Sallah with their family and loved ones to their various destinations including Oyo, Ogun and Lagos states respectively.
The beneficiaries also poured encomiums on the Administration of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun for sustaining the initiative inspite of the socioeconomic challenges being experienced by government at various levels.
The beneficiaries spoke on Sunday while fielding questions from journalists shortly before boarding the free train provided by the Osun government to commemorate the 2021 Eid-el-Kabir celebration back to their destinations.
They turned out in large numbers and had earlier assembled at the Osogbo terminal of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Old Garage, to catch up the train which was billed to return them to Lagos and other neighbouring states in the Southwest by 10:00am.
While applauding the railway upgrade initiative of the Federal Government, they opined that the efforts would be a waste if the FG fails to extend same to Osun, Kwara and other notable states around the Southwest, adding that the initiative would further help to complement the efforts and rare commitment of the Osun government that has been spending millions of Naira to support the railway transportation system through its free train service during festive periods.
Prince Oyetoro Ademola, one of the beneficiaries of the free train service from Osogbo, said despite the fact that the facilities provided by the State afforded him and his family to come home to celebrate the Sallah, the scheme can also be strengthened to enhance better productivity if being supported by the Federal Government through the railway standard gauge project.
Ademola who was returning to Lagos with other six members of his family, further that “if not for this, you can imagine what I would have provided as transport fare to convey them back to our base.
“To me, this is the best social intervention Programme of Osun government that takes a clear cognisance of the lean purse and other financial plights of the citizens of the State who are living outside Osun particularly in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo States,” he added.
Also, Mr. Adeniyi Adeyinka, a holidaymaker, commended the Osun Government for continuously providing worthwhile leadership to make life meaningful and prosperous for the citizens and residents of the State.
He said Osun has no doubt proved itself as a pacesetter of socioeconomic, infrastructural and human-capital development as seen in the positive impact of its programmes and policies over the years.
“I am here to take the free train to my place of living in Ogun State. We appreciate Governor Oyetola for this gesture. It is a wonderful and magnanimous effort from Government.
“It is an opportunity to reduce the transport fare for my family. Governor has done this for me and I am glad.
“We want Federal Government to extend the standard gauge to Osun so that it will be of great benefit for all of us particularly we that enjoy the free train service,”Adeyinka said.
In the same vein, Mr. Jimoh Isiaka; Mrs. Bola Oluwole and Mr. Yinka Rafiu, all applauded the initiative and urged Federal Government to do the needful by upgrading the railway facilities to modern ones.
Speaking, the Commissioner for Commerce, Industry, Cooperatives and Empowerment, Dr. Bode Olaonipekun, said the welfarist and humanitarian nature of Governor Oyetola had manifested in the smooth running of the initiative since the inception of the Administration.
“This programme involves other states as you can see, you saw people coming to Osogbo from Offa, Ajase, Ilorin and other places to board the train. This is a clear testimony to the fact that this initiative has been very supportive of the people.
“So, this is one of the dividends of good governance as exemplified by our Governor. Welfarist and humanitarian approach of this Administration cannot be over-emphasised.
“On the need for the Federal Government to upgrade the locomotive coaches to the modern ones, obviously the new gauge is under construction, it has gotten to Ibadan, Oyo State and hopefully by the timeline of the construction, it will get to Osun by next year.
“With that, the old gauge can still be refurbished to give better comfort to passengers and we are encouraging the Railway Corporation to ensure that Nigerians get improved train services,” he added.
Meanwhile, over 2000 passengers boarded the train from Osogbo on Sunday, with the expectation to accommodate more at various designated terminal in Ede, Iwo, Ibadan, Abeokuta among others.