The Lagos District Manager of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr. Jerry Oche, told the press that the unidentified victim was one of six beggars who sat in a row near the railway line at the Mushin Railway corridor, as a passenger train came speeding along.

While warning that it is against the law to sit or trade beside the railway line, Oche said: “Anybody who has no business entering the train should not be on the rail corridor, because it is very dangerous.

“It’s like a suicide mission seeing a train approaching and you are still sitting down on the track."

The Manager warned traders, hawkers, beggars and passersby to stay away from the rail lines across the state to avoid accidents. 

Train crashes into 'danfo' bus in Lagos. Emergency workers are seen trying to clear the scene.
Train crashes into 'danfo' bus in Lagos. Emergency workers are seen trying to clear the scene.

May the soul of the unidentified beggar and those of others who have died on the rail tracks in similar circumstances, rest in peace. Every life is important and none should be lost in such a gruesome manner.

News of the beggar’s death on the tracks, again brings to the fore the practice of selling and buying on rail lines by Nigerians. It is a dangerous, abominable practice. But that hasn’t stopped more and more Nigerians from taking to the railways to display their wares right on the tracks and to sell and buy, with a speeding train only meters away.

I get really worried each time I’m commuting through the Tejuosho, Yaba railway crossing or through the Ikeja-Along, Iddo-Oyingbo terminus—all of which are in Lagos.

Railway crossings have become markets for Lagosians. Each time, I have had to ask myself some germane questions about the sellers on railway tracks. Insufficient trading stalls? A sheer refusal to rent stalls from the authorities? No money to rent stalls at exorbitant prices? Government’s inability to properly allot trading zones at railway intersections? Why is government even allowing people to buy and sell on rail tracks if it’s illegal to do so? Are these traders paying a fee to local government authorities or area boys to trade on rail tracks? How many Nigerians have died from being knocked down by trains across Nigeria? Do we even place a value on the human life in this country?

What if the train derails? What if the horn malfunctions? What if there are deaf people on the track buying wares when the train is speeding past the crossing?

Commuters wait to board a train Nigeria (Punch)
Commuters wait to board a train Nigeria (Punch)

I would suggest that there is an awareness and sensitization campaign by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) on this subject. Thereafter, offenders should be punished in accordance with the laws of the land. 

It is unsafe and suicidal to sell stuff on rail lines, for the simple reason that a train doesn’t just stop, like a car would. Nigerians should be talked into desisting from this insane behavior with immediate effect.