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Special report: Travellers lament hike in fares, call for regulation to check excesses

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Adebayo Animasaun and Oyibo Ediri

As Christmas rush begins, travellers at different transport terminals in Lagos state on Saturday lamented hike in road transport fares by operators and called on the government to put a regulatory system in place to check excesses.

TheNewsGuru (TNG) in this special report gathered that the cost of transport from Lagos to Abuja now stands at over N14,000.00, with transport line operators attributing the hike to surge.

Similarly, TNG found that fare from Lagos to Abakiliki was N11,000.00 on Saturday morning, fare from Lagos to Bayelsa and Port Harcourt was over N12,000.00.

Fares generally from the state to elsewhere in the country have more than doubled, TNG can report, and the situation is expected to worsen into last week of the year, according to operators.

“While coming from Bayelsa, we paid about N4,000.00 plus some fractions. While going back to Bayelsa now, my sister and I, we paid about N25,000.00 plus some fractions. So, you can see the difference, from about N9,000.00 both of us paid to get to Lagos just a week before now”.

With Lagos as Nigeria’s largest city, it is natural for transport terminals to be more crowded than usual with many returning home to spend Christmas with their loved ones, however, travellers were not pleased with the hike in fares.

A civil servant nursing mother, who did not wish to be named, told TNG that “there should be people that regulate fares or people that go about checkmating transporters” for excess charges, especially during festive periods.

“While coming from Bayelsa, we paid about N4,000.00 plus some fractions. While going back to Bayelsa now, my sister and I, we paid about N25,000.00 plus some fractions. So, you can see the difference, from about N9,000.00 both of us paid to get to Lagos just a week before now.

“Before now, transport fare from Lagos to Bayelsa is about N5,500.00. One person is about N12,000.00 plus now. The gap is just too much. No fuel increment about it, so its too much. We were supposed to leave here by 7:15 am, but till now, we have not boarded, and to me, that is not cool. I am sure its because of the crowd. And of course, the increase in fares is too much.

Keep Naira clean

“There should be people that regulate fares or people that go about checkmating all these transporters. There might be people that want to travel but because of the price they cannot. You can imagine one family came in here with six persons travelling, how much will they pay. Its too much.

“So they should have bodies, agencies that go about to making sure Nigerians are not unnecessarily exploited,” she said.

“Normally, I do not use land transportation going to the East because of the hike in flight rate too that is why I decided to use road”.

Mr. Chima Emmanuel while speaking with a TNG correspondent said “usually I pay N6,500.00 going to the East from Lagos to Aba or Owerri but now I am paying N11,500.00. Its on the high side.

“Normally, I do not use land transportation going to the East because of the hike in flight rate too that is why I decided to use the road.

Travellers with travel tickets waiting for vehicles at a transport terminal in Lagos on Saturday
Travellers with travel tickets waiting for vehicles at a transport terminal in Lagos on Saturday (Photo: Bayo Animasaun)

“They booked me 7:20 am for departure, but this is 8:30 and our bus is not here, they are calling buses from another terminal to pick us. I am not confident here, I am worried, because I don’t know if they are going to cancel our trip or we will stay here for another extra hour. I am travelling alone; I came to Lagos for business purpose so I am going back to the East.

Another passenger, Anozie Michael, who just got back from Abakaliki said, “Over there in the East the transport fare is very cheap coming to Lagos, the transporters are even begging us for one thousand naira. For me I actually boarded the bus for one thousand, five hundred naira from Abakaliki to Lagos”.

He added that “the transporters aim is to just get fuel money to Lagos, then they get their returns by hiking the price for those going to the East for Xmas and New Year celebrations”.

“There is supposed to be a regulatory system to check these excesses because to me there is no difference in service, the same service, and the same vehicles. And it is not as if as you are waiting, they will serve you breakfast or something”.

While several passengers told TNG on Saturday that they were not happy about the change in fares, some, like Favour Njoku, seem not to be bothered by the increment.

“I am travelling to Abakiliki to go and see my family and see my village people, see my old friends, and enjoy with them. It has been long I saw them.

“From Mazamaza here I am paying N11,000.00 to Abakiliki, where I used to pay between N5,000.00 and N6,000.00 to. Well, its their season.

“If you do not travel in this season, you are missing a lot. Travelling in this season, you could see your old friends, and as for me, I would be enjoying my mother’s food a long time after.

“I will also be enjoying with my siblings because all of them would be back home as well,” Favour, who was visibly enthusiastic, said.

Travellers boarding a vehicle at a transport terminal in Lagos state on Saturday
Travellers boarding a vehicle at a transport terminal in Lagos state on Saturday (Photo: Bayo Animasaun)

However, one traveller who did not take it easy told a TNG correspondent she has no name and angrily said, “Transport fare is affecting our money”.

Meanwhile, Lawrence Agulonu, travelling to Port Harcourt, said before now, from Port Harcourt to Lagos used to be N7,000.00 or N8,000.00 thereabout, but that he paid N10,000.00 to get to Lagos, and now paid N12,000.00 returning to Port Harcourt.

“The difference I can say is as a result of the crowd as usual of the festive seasons. The difference is much. If I was not having much cash on me, I would have been embarrassed like some persons who have to return home without travelling.

“They are just maximizing the opportunity of the festive period to exploit travellers. There should be a check. There should be a regulatory system to check the excesses”.

“There is no reason whatsoever for the increase in fares; the same service, the same vehicles. It is amazing how transport operators set fares, especially during festive seasons. It is expected that during this rush period that there are more passengers travelling, there should be drop in fares or worse case, fares should remain the same, especially as there is no fuel scarcity or increase in the pump price.

“They are just maximizing the opportunity of the festive period to exploit travellers. There should be a check. There should be a regulatory system to check the excesses.

“I know they are here to make profit. They were making profit when they were collecting N7,000.00 even during the period they were having fewer travellers. The surge this period should make them drop the price or should remain as it was before now.

“There is supposed to be a regulatory system to check these excesses because to me there is no difference in service, the same service, and the same vehicles.

“The economic recession last year was so bad; people didn’t travel, but this year, its a different thing”.

“And it is not as if as you are waiting, they will serve you breakfast or something. You receive your travel ticket, and you will still have to wait for another 30 minutes to an hour before you hit the roads. To me, this is not good”.

A business manager at Okeyson Investment transport line who spoke with TNG said that turnout at his terminal has been great even with the increment in fares.

He said, “People are travelling, unlike last year. The economic recession last year was so bad; people didn’t travel, but this year, its a different thing.

Speaking about the fares, he described the increment as minimal, while stressing that the “little increment” is as a result of the cost of operations and the pattern of travelling in festive seasons.

“We have to blow empty vehicles from the East to come to Lagos to take passengers. So, we have to balance the lose we accrue in bringing empty vehicles from the East so that people can travel. So that is the reason for the marginal increase in the cost of transportation.

“We thank God there is no fuel scarcity this time around and there is no increase in fuel price compared to last year. The turnout has been great; people are travelling, despite the little increase in fare. We thank God for everything,” he said.

A business manager with God is Good motors, who craved anonymity, confirmed the surge affected the change in fares, stressing that demand dictates the rates they charge.

“When you have over 50 people in the terminal travelling a particular route, and you have fewer vehicles available for the route, what would you do? There has been a surge in passengers travelling the different routes, so the rates have to be adjusted,” he said.

 

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