Growing up as a child was quite eventful and fun-filled. Apart from the Zoological Gardens at the University of Ibadan, Trans Amusement Park at Samonda, very close to the University of Ibadan was one of my favorite fun destinations.
I used ‘was’ because even though the facility is still in existence, its current state is best described as a museum, a monument reminding us that things were once good.
Back in the days, the park was a beehive of activities with massive media publicity. I still remember the theme song on BCOS. It went thus:
Trans Amusement Park,
Daddy let us go,
Mummy take us there
To the Trans Amusement Park
For any first-time visitor to Ibadan, you would hear that the park is a major tourist destination. If it were to be up-and-running, it would be a major destination that would compete favorably – even in this mall era. But this is not the case in the present day Trans Amusement Park.
Empty Visitors’ Car Parks
Even though the car parks looked well kept when I visited, the cars were no where to be found which made me wonder what was wrong. Or is it also closed on weekends like the not-far-from-here Ventura Mall Samonda
which is also closed on Sundays?
Seeing the empty parks prepared me for the abandonment that I later saw in the park starting with a stagnant pool of water at the main entrance.
“It couldn’t get worse,” I told myself. But alas, I was wrong. That was just the beginning.
To pay or not to pay for entry
When I finally got to the gate, I entered freely only to be called back my a staff. He said a #200 entry fee was required. While asking him why, a lady called him and he walked away. Another worker told me to go and forget the payment.
As I was making my way to the park, the first guy called me again and insisted that I pay, something I quietly and happily did because a place like the park could only be kept functional if people are compelled to pay. You want to have fun? You gotta pay!
We almost argued though when he asked me to forget my #100 change cos I paid for 2 tickets and I gave him a #500 note.
The lawns are well taken care of although some were waterlogged but on the overall, the gardeners seem to be the only ones doing a meticulous job – maybe it’s a strategy to distract peoples’ attention from the true state of the park, especially the rides.
No need to be dramatic about the rides because as far as they are concerned, none of them is working. The Panoramic Wheel, though still elegant to look at, seemed to me was last used in year 2000 – probably. The electronic cars too are not working, not even the merry-go-round horse rides, the Dragon’s Wheel…nothing in the park is working.
Each of the rides has an operator’s chamber that are very dusty. The best you can get from the park would be good pictures for DP.
Inhabitants and visitors
Animals of all sizes are the inhabitants of various sections of the park, especially from the area around the Dragon Wheel extending to the toilet area. By the way, if I were you, I wouldn’t ease myself in the toilet cos I don’t think anyone can come out of that place alive – or the same way he or she went in. If snakes don’t kill, the foul smells would.
Relics of the good Ol’ days
If you look around and project your mind beyond the ambiance in the park, you would realise that the park was once groovy and lively. The kiosk that once housed an ice creamery and the one that was used by a photographer still stand till today even though they are deteriorating very quickly.
Furthermore, there are numerous closed lock-up stores around the park – within and outside. They were once opened and were sources of income and livelihood for at least a hundred people. Only God knows where the former occupants are now.
The good part
Even though I didn’t see anything functioning at the park, I still saw quite a number of people there many of whom were eating. I saw a young couple (not even sure they were married) having an outdoor lunch at the Dragon ride. They were so happy about the place and would be happier if the place is fully functional.
Luckily for the children I saw in the park, the big slide doesn’t require electricity which means they can still run up and slide down. That was manageable for them. Even parents were dotted around the park taking a moment to relax and watch their children run around the park. Nothing could beat that.
The experience could be improved upon.
Game Arcade at Samonda, Fun Factory at Bodija, or anywhere else cannot be compared to Trans Amusement Park. I’ve been to several cities within and outside Nigeria also. As far as West Africa is concerned, there is no place compared to Trans Amusement Park; it’s our own Disneyland that is unfortunately wasting away.
The Akala-led administration handed the park over to a private owner, but the Ajimobi-led government cancelled the agreement thus making the park to be at the mercy of politicians and their politricks. It will continue to deteriorate.
What could be done
The park needs to be resurrected and made fu
nctional again – at least for the children and future generations. To achieve this, I think it has to be handed over to those who can make it work. There are several of them now in Ibadan – the Heritage Mall people, Ibadan Mall people and others.
An agreement that would be beneficial to the state government and the developers should be signed in order to avert future cancellations that may discourage investors from investing in renovating the park.
The person I went with described the current status of the park as deplorable and an attestation to the selfishness and self-centered attitude of our leaders.
“They enjoyed it during their time but don’t want our own children to enjoy the place,” she told me in true somberly.
Trans Amusement Park is presently not a park; at best, it is a museum – a monument reminding us of the good ol days and how bad things have become.
PS: Check out the pics I took below and let’s start #BringBackTransAmusementPark, or something shorter.