Train to Enugu

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Train to Enugu from Kano by Andy Buhler, CUSO, 69-71

Returning from Kano to Ogwashi-Uku, Christmas 1970.

I got my rail ticket on Wednesday night and nearly burst laughing. The Nigerian railways subtly admit that the train accommodation is not really the best. My ticket was a pink slip of paper on which Livestock Waybill had been crossed out. It may be a slap at the Ibo too as this train only went to the Eastern Region. Anyway I thought it was funny.

I got to the station at 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning since the train was to go at 9:00 a.m. At 11:30 a.m. I got on the train and we started off. They stopped at every way-station along the route. I ate oranges and bread and bananas most of the way although my travelling companion did give me a boiled egg and a shot of Scotch Whiskey. There were just the two of us in a six-person compartment from Kano to Lafia, then my companion left and I was alone to Enugu. This meant plenty of room but the train kicked up a lot of dust and the grasses along the track had recently been burnt (or were still burning) so a large amount of dust, dirt and ash blew into the car. I couldn’t close the windows or I would roast.

The countryside around Enugu is wooded and rolling, lots of low hills and wide valleys. The town itself is hardly damaged at all and the roads in the area are good. The most damage I saw was at Akwa, everything destroyed. I asked Patrick about it when I got back and he said they used to make guns and ammo there so the Federal troops wiped it out when they arrived. However, by the time the Feds arrived, Ojukwu had removed all the goods and the people so it was only the town they destroyed.

Arrived in Enugu about 6:30 p.m. Friday night, too late to catch a taxi to Onitsha. Stayed at the Catering Rest House there for £N3 a night plus food. Still it was worth it as the room was a chalet with sitting room, bedroom, bathroom and bath. The hot-water heater was already on when I arrived so I poured a hot bath and luxuriated in it for a while. Later, in clean clothes, I went to the Rest House and had a beer and a meal. I felt 1000% better.

Next morning I left by taxi to the motor park, caught a Peugeot car to Onitsha motor-park, then another taxi to the bridgehead. I walked over the bridge with my loads then caught another taxi to the CCN in Asaba. There I conned Larry into providing me with a ride back to Ogwashi-Uku.

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