Few hours to the celebration of Eid-el-Kabir, some travellers in Lagos State on Saturday decried more than 200 per cent increase in transport fares to their various destinations.
They spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in various motor parks in Lagos that the arbitrary hike caught their imaginations, expressing surprise at the outrageous cost of transportation.
NAN Correspondent, who visited some of the parks, reports that the drivers blamed the hike on the chaotic traffic situations on the major roads, especially on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
It also reports that many travellers who could not afford the transport charges at the parks, opted for the road sides to board articulated vehicles at cheaper rate,while some were stranded.
One of the drivers plying Ibadan route, Ajidahunsi Mukaila, said that they had been experiencing hardship travelling on Lagos-Ibadan road in the last one day due to congestion on the road.
Another driver at Ketu Motor Park, Tajudeen Suleiman, told NAN that one of the reasons for fare hike was the chaotic traffic on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as a result of road diversion in view of the ongoing construction work.
According to him, motorists spent more hours on the road as a result of the traffic along the corridor due to increase in the number of vehicles plying the routes.
“We burn more fuel in the traffic, the road is not free at all; many of us manage to go for single trip per day, unlike before when your to and fro is certain.
“On our return journey, there is no passengers.
“We shuttle back to Lagos with few passengers at low price, then load another turn as the case may be; these are the reasons for the increase in fares,” he said.
Suleiman, however, appealed to the Federal Government to take proactive measures in ensuring early completion of the rehabilitation and expansions on the expressway.
“This will ensure free flow of traffic, thereby reducing the cost of maintainance of our vehicles, which often got damage as a result of bad portions of the road and the gridlock while travelling,” he said.
Also, a traveller, Mr Mukaila Adeyemi, told NAN at Iyana-Ipaja Motor Parks that he was surprised to hear that the transport fare to Ibadan had gone up.
Adeyemi said that transport fare to Ibadan from Iyana-Ipaja cost N3,000 as against N1,500 early in the morning.
“In fact, I just don’t know why these transporters decided to hike their fares, because there is no fuel scarcity; this is unfair to the people,” he said.
Another traveller, Alhaja Seliat Dawodu, said she was surprised when she got to Ojota Park and confirmed that Ogbomoso bound bus was charging between N5,000 and N4, 000 as against N2, 000.
Dawodu said she had to withdraw money from the Automated Teller Machine(ATM) to meet up with the transport fare with her family to Ogbomoso.
“But honestly, government needs to do something to address this unnecessary hike in transport fare during the Sallah and Christmas period;
“It is uncalled for. The transporters are taking undue advantage of the commuters,” she said.
Also, Mr Ibrahim Kadri, a Civil Servant, told NAN at Oshodi Motor Parks that the high cost of transport fares was not new among the transporters, especially during festive periods.
According to him, the transport fares have been increased by more than 100 per cent in the last three days for those travelling to Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo States.
“We have been complaining to the government for so many years to find lasting solution to the recurrent hike in transport fares during Muslims and Christians festivals.
“This price hike is uncalled for; government needs to come in and curtail the menace and undue hardship being imposed on travellers by the transporters; it is very sad,” he said.
Fare to Osogbo was also increased to N4, 500 as against N2,000, while Ilorin and Offa cost between N5,000 and N6,000 as against N2,500.
Also, transport fares to Abeokuta, Shagamu/Ijebu-Ode were also hiked as transporters were charging between N2, 500 and N3,500 as against N600 and N1200 respectively.
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) had assured motorists and passengers of free flow of traffic on the busy Lagos-Ibadan Expressway during the Eid-el-Kabir.
Mr Hyginus Omeje, the FRSC Lagos State Sector Commander, had told NAN that no traveler would be stranded or sleep on the highway.
Omeje lauded the Federal Government’s decision to postpone a planned closure of the expressway for repairs during the period.