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04/03/2013

All aboard: train trip through reborn Nigeria tells nation's history

Nigeria reopened its train line to the north in December of 2012, marking the end of a $166 million project to rebuild portions of the abandoned line that had been washed out years earlier. The state-owned China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. rebuilt the southern portion of the line, while a Nigerian company handled the rest.

The rebirth of the line that goes north, called the Ooni of Ife, constitutes a major economic relief to the poor seeking to travel in a country where most earn less than $1 a day. Airline tickets remain out of the reach of many and journeys over the nation's crumbling road network can be dangerous. The cheapest train ticket available costs only $13.

The Ooni of Ife is a gruelling trip that travels 835 kilometres from Lagos, Nigeria's massive southwestern city, on the long trip north to Kano. The route offers a glimpse of the nation's history and landscapes, while also allowing travelers to see its ethnic and religious diversity firsthand. While Nigeria is predominantly divided into a Christian south and a Muslim north, the two faiths live together largely peacefully and intermarry in sprawling Lagos. All of Nigeria's more than 250 ethnic groups can be found on the city's busy streets, hustling out a living otherwise not possible in their home regions.

Photos taken in March 2013 by Sunday Alamba of The Associated Press.

 

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Passengers lineup to purchase train tickets to Kano, in a terminal in Lagos, Nigeria.

 

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A passenger peers through the ticket window in Lagos.

 

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A man displays train tickets to Kano.

 

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A passenger balances on her head a bag bearing a portrait of U.S President Barack Obama, as she wait to board a train.

 

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A passenger waits for an Ooni of Ife train to arrive in Kano.

 

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Girls sell drinks to passengers through the windows of an Ooni of Ife train.

 

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A child sleeps on the floor aboard an Ooni of Ife train.

 

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A woman gazes out the window on an Ooni of Ife train.

 

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Children sit on board an Ooni of Ife train.

 

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A train driver is seen on an Ooni of Ife train to Kano.

 

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An Ooni of Ife train snakes around a bend in the track.

 

@canice

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