Posted by Sunny Okim, Umuahia | 12 January 2019 | 1,297 times
The high transport fares witnessed shortly before and during the last Yuletide from the cities to the hinterland around the country are yet to come down, despite the fact that there has not been any increase in the fuel pump price.
Particularly hit by the exploitative transport fares even two weeks after the Christmas and New Year celebrations, are commuters returning from their holidays in the eastern part of the country to Lagos, Abuja and other distant places.
Investigation by News Express reveals that transport fares from most parts of the North, the West and the South-South which had during the Yuletide gone up by as much as 150 per cent have returned to what they were before the Yuletide but the South East is an exception.
For instance, a Sienna bus from Umuahia, capital of Abia State, which was normally about N7,000 to Lagos, skyrocketed to N15,000 a few days after the celebrations but managed to drop minimally to N12,050 today, Saturday, December 12, 2019.
A 15-seater bus to Abuja from the same destination goes for N9,500, up from the usual N6,000.
Similarly, bus fare from Onitsha to Lagos, which was N3,000 before the Yuletide, as at this morning (Saturday) was N4,500 – a 50% increase.
Asked why the fares were yet to be brought down two weeks after the celebrations, a manager with Abia State Transport Corporation who spoke under anonymity said the Yuletide is the only time of the year transporters are opportune to make money from the high number of travellers in order to make up for high costs of administration and maintenance of vehicles in their fleet.
“The cost of vehicle maintenance is very high due to the present unfriendly foreign exchange rates. Besides, we need money to pay salaries and meet other administrative needs. I can tell you that before the last Christmas, this corporation was owing four months staff salaries but with the rush and high fares during the Yuletide, the salary arrears has been taken care of considerably,” the manager explained.
When confronted with the fact that there has not been an increase in the fuel pump price and so the high transport fares were unjustified, the manager said: “Agreed fuel pump price has not been increased, but the truth is that right now the number of passengers from cities like Abuja and Lagos to this part of the country is greatly reduced. It costs N17,000 to fill the tank of one bus to travel from Lagos or Abuja down here. It doesn’t make economic sense if we don’t try and recover part of such expenses by charging higher fares from here.”
Reminded that it has been two weeks since the Yuletide, he said: “Well, the rush is now from this way (East). The fares are coming down gradually, I believe by this time next month (February) everything will normalise.”
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