Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on May 29, in his inaugural speech announced the removal of fuel subsidy to augment other sectors, but it came with a scorching effect — a hike in goods and services.
Significantly, the hike in transportation fares, WikkiTimes gathered, is contributing to low patronage of public transportation services.
For Instance, prices of inter-state trips have shot up as states-owned transportation companies and their private counterparts count losses amid low patronage.
Abba Kabir Yusuf, Kano State Governor, had, upon his inauguration, dissolved all political appointees, including that of Kano Line Transport Services. However, the staff and ranking officials of the transportation company refused to grant interviews.
But a senior official of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Kano Line Motor Park, Abdullahi Ammani, told WikkiTimes that transport fares have increased to reflect the current changes in fuel prices.
“I think other sectors that are not directly affected by the fuel increase are facing the consequences. What do you expect here? The impact is more prominent in the transport sector, where it is being felt. Prices are up and passengers’ movement has considerably reduced,” he said.
Ammani added: “For example, Kano to Abuja, which was N5,500 before but now costs N9,000. Kano to Lafia was N4,500, but now it is N7,000; Dutse to Kano was N1,000, now it is N1,500.
“Bauchi to Kano used to be N2,500; now it is N4,500. Going to Katsina was N1000 as against 1N,500 now. Zaria to Kano was N1,500 but now it is N2,000; Kaduna to Kano now costs N3,500 instead of N2,000.”
A driver Abdulmalik Musa who plies Kano-Kaduna-Abuja road said on normal occasions, passengers’ movements are reduced whenever it is raining seasoning but with the soaring cost of fuel, travels dive downward than usual during the rainy season.
“I, without exaggeration, I can say 50% or more passengers have disappeared since the fuel increase. It is actually not easy but it is a reality we have accepted. Our people are resilient. I believe we will survive it,” he told WikkiTimes.
The Situation is the same in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, where a hike in fuel price means low patronage for transport workers.
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Drivers who spoke to WikkiTimes said the buses usually carried three persons per seat, but the recent situation has forced them to compress four persons on each seat.
They said N30,000 fuel no longer takes them to Abuja. They now spend N85,000 on. Likewise, N25,000 fuel to Kano is no longer realistic. To journey from Maiduguri to Kano, the drivers said they have to buy N50,000 fuel.
Meanwhile, this also affects their number of trips. About 10 to 12 buses journey from Maiduguri to other states. But they barely have eight buses for the trips since the recent economic situation surfaced.
Transport companies across Benue State are also suffering the rippling effect of the recent hike. They also reviewed their prices.
During a visit to the state-owned Benue Links, WikkiTimes learnt that a trip from Makurdi to Kano now costs N10,000 instead of N8,000 previous price.
From Makurdi to Jos, the capital of Plateau State, one needs to budget N6,000 as against the former trip fare of N4,000.
In an interview with a few drivers, they lamented that the impact of the subsidy removal has been high on them as passengers no longer travel as they did before.
Ortese Jude, a driver who journeys between Makurdi and Jos said it has been difficult to get a turn as often as it was before.
“Before every two days I usually travel to Jos and come back, but now I may spend five days before I get a turn,” he said. “It has been quite challenging for us, myself personally I must say.”
During a visit to Gidan Mai Park in the Bauchi metropolis, drivers were seen resting and debating under a tree as only few passengers showed up for travels.
The development, WikkiTimes understands, could not be unconnected to the hike in the transport fare by the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in the state.
A driver who wished not to be named said the situation was unbearable as he spent five days waiting for his turn to pick up passengers.
Comrade Abdullahi B Muhammad, Chairman of RTEAN in Bauchi State told WikkiTimes that the fuel subsidy removal has crippled their activities to the extent that some drivers packed their cars to look for other means of survival.
“From the time the president made the pronouncement of fuel subsidy removal, with a period of 6 hours filling stations started to make an increment on PMS price per liter, so do they mean they have automatically changed the price or they have bought new one with different price? You see all this is clearly showing lack of patriotism,” he said.
He added that the association was left with no other option than to review the transportation fare to cope with the current economic reality.
“Considering how the pump price changed instantly we have to checkmate, for instance then from Bauchi to Kano was N3,500 per passenger but now is N6,000 you see we only added N2,500, therefore we have to adjust if not our drivers will suffer a lot.”
“Now passengers are not even available unlike before when many people are travelling using commercial cars,” he lamented.
He revealed that the use of cars has also been limited due to patronage.
“Before from here to Jos, more than 100 cars carried passengers each day but now it is not up to 30 in a day, you see there is a problem,” he explained.
Muhammad opined that the only way to salvage the transportation industry is by establishing a Bank of Transportation which will give drivers the opportunity to access loans and buy new vehicles.
MEANWHILE, drivers under the auspices of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) are left stranded as the leadership of the union is yet to make any pronouncement on the increment of the transportation fare.
The Bauchi State Chapter Chairman of NURTW, Alhaji Isma’il Abubakar Babawo said drivers of the union are at liberty to negotiate with passengers pending a directive from the national leadership of the union.
He said: “Even though we are waiting for orders from the above, we still have to adjust and make some changes ourselves so people can travel. For example, from Bauchi to Kano to and from you have to buy fuel for N32,000 but now it is N40,000 so how do you get the remaining amount? Only by negotiating with the passengers to add money and then if you are lucky while coming you get some passengers then that is your profit.”
Abubakar said there is a need for intervention from the part of government so as to save the citizens from losing their source of livelihood.