Fred Itua and Samuel Bello
It’s Christmas season. This is the time of the year families travel to their respective towns and villages to celebrate the yuletide season. It is a holiday of some sort for some workaholics. They usually work round the clock from January to December. For them, Christmas offers an opportunity to take a break and enjoy the ambience of the season.
For many Nigerians, this comfort comes at a cost. For travelers, they are usually compelled to cough out double of what they hitherto paid just to board a public vehicle to their villages and towns. Many travelers, apparently to reduce the cost, opt for night buses which also has its own hazards.
Daily Sun went to town to sample the opinions of people on the current rate of transportation to many parts of the country, especially southern states. The responses varied. Their responses will also offer succour to distressed families who may not have the means to pay any exuberant prices.
The Secretary of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Abuja, Olugbade Olagunju, said: “We have not increased any price. If at all we are going to increase, it would be around around Christmas. For now as we speak, going to Lagos from Jabi motor park, being that we are operating national union, the trip costs N5,600, while other parks charge N8,000. But this is union park. Going to Ibadan costs N5000, to Ado-Ekiti, we charge N4600. To Akure, we also charge N4600. Also to Osogbo, Osun state, we charge same N4600, while other parks charge from N7000 to Osogbo. That is the difference between this union park and other private parks.
“As for the increment, we cannot increase; just unilaterally like that, it wouldn’t make sense and wouldn’t be fair. If we even decide to increase the price, we would have to go to the state council in Kubwa. We would tell them we are increasing to a particular amount, then they would say it would affect the passengers because we value our passengers. We are not private business men that can say if they like let them go. We have some people that we call our own passengers and we don’t want any hardship for them.”
Also speaking, chairman Mini-Bus phase 3 Jabi park, Olajide Idowu, added that “after going to Kubwa, the officials there would have to take it to the headquarters on Sapele road in Garki to ask for approval to increase prices. They may say yes and they may say no but most often when they know we must have considered so many things, they usually tell us to go ahead and we shouldn’t go beyond what is written there in the agreement.
“We have tariff and everything but before we can increase, it would go through some stages. From the unit to the branch, from the branch to the state and from the state to the headquarters. That is our own way of decreasing and that is how the process is anywhere in Nigeria.
“As for those that enter along, it’s not our business, it is very profitable for the person. The only problem is when there are casualties like missing person report, it would be very difficult to locate them. Anyways we don’t have plans to increase prices here. It’s just like Wuse market; the module of rice there should about N500 to N600. They will not have plans to increase it but increment may enter the plan.
“It is just a matter of economy; demand and supply. When 20 people want to enter a vehicle conveying 14, it would be survival of the fittest. We are not the ones that would force the increment, it is even the passengers that would say please let us pay more. When they tell you they want to pay more, I don’t see a reason why we should say no.”
Visiting God is Good Motors (GIGM) park in Jabi, Marian Ebije, a passenger, said the transport fare increased. She said “one of their staff said they increased the cost of transportation because they had to undergo some immediate maintenance.”
For proper a clarification, a GIGM staff who pleaded anonymity, said: “The cost of transportation was already increased even before the Christmas season and the increase was just a N200 difference. From Abuja to Lagos now costs N9100 and it was N8900 before. So just calculate that from Abuja to Asaba now costs N7100, while Port Harcourt costs N9100, then going to Uyo costs N4000.”
When asked if there would be an increment in the transportation cost for people that would be traveling during this Christmas week, he smiled and told our correspondent that he would be unable to disclose that information due to company protocols.
“This is a company. You cannot just come here even with your identity card and we will give you that kind of information. It is not because we feel you don’t deserve the information but because I am not ready to jeopardize the interest of the company especially during this season and you know how journalist can be; They are trained to fine tune informations and you know what can happen when this kind of information gets to the media. In short, we have not finalized a plan to increase the transport fare.”