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Lagosians groan over high transport fare, seek Sanwo-Olu’s intervention

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Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, strategic measures were taken to curtail its spread. Among these measures was the enforcement of social distancing in public transport. To this end, vehicles carrying four passengers were mandated to carry two passengers while vehicles carrying five passengers were mandated to carry three passengers.

These changes caused a sharp rise in transport fare across the state. But commuters adjusted to the situation given the demands of that moment.

Nevertheless, normalcy has been restored in virtually all sectors of the economy following the flattening of the COVID-19 curve in the country. Business activities are now in full swing and transporters load their vehicles to the brim. But they still collect the COVID-19 fare from passengers.

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Speaking with The Guardian on the development, many residents lamented that commuting round the state has become too expensive and almost unbearable. They appealed to the state government to address the situation.

Friday Apeh said he has been paying through the nose to go to work everyday.

“Before COVID-19, commercial buses were collecting N300 from Iyana Oworo to Ajah while private vehicles collected between N200 and N250. Buses carried four passengers while private cars carried three passengers. But now the price for commercial buses is two times the normal price and they are carrying full load. It is so annoying,” he said.

Uzooma Ukaonu, who resides in Oshodi area of the state, also said he has been finding it difficult to commute to different destinations within Lagos because of high transport fare.

He said: “From my area in Oshodi to Ikeja Along which was for N50 before is now N150. The fare was increased due to the COVID-19 directive to transporters to carry two passengers per seat. My displeasure about this whole situation is that it is now tough for a common man to move to his/her place of business. I would like it to go back to the normal price to make things easy for the citizens and enable them to meet up their daily schedule.”

Rejoice Chinahuzo also explained: “From Egbeda to Ikeja was N200 before COVID-19 with full passenger load. We paid N300 at the peak of COVID-19, with two passengers per seat. Now that COVID-19 has subsided, transporters carry full load and still mandate us to pay N300.”

Mrs. Ifeoma okafor, a trader in Lagos, lamented that transport fare has been taking the larger part of her profit.

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“The cost of commodities are high in the market. When I buy at high prices, I still pay high transport fare to convey my goods to the shop. For me to make profit I have to increase the prices of my commodities. My customers complain a lot but there is nothing I can do because it is not my fault as I will not carry the goods on my head from the market to the shop,” she said.

Many transporters who spoke with The Guardian blamed the situation on the increase in the pump price of petrol and the multiple ‘settlement’ they do on the road.

Lawal Hameed, who drives a mini bus on the Idi-Araba- Yaba route said: “It is not my fault; we pay huge ‘agbero’ tax. Also, the high cost of petrol makes it difficult for us to go back to the old price of N100 per passenger. So we still collect the N150 COVID-19 social distancing price per passenger and still carry full load.”

A transporter that plies Yaba to Bariga, Kenneth Sunday, however, said they were yet to start carrying full load. He said: “During COVID-19 restrictions, we moved from N100 for full load to N200 for two passengers in a seat. Now that COVID-19 has subsided, we carry three passengers per seat for same N200, which was the COVID-19 social distancing price.

“You won’t blame us because ‘agbero’ collects their own from us; the high price of fuel is there and most importantly the road in my route is very bad. We have to run between different streets that are motorable and this prolongs our trip. We keep visiting mechanics for repairs because of the bad roads and that takes a lot of money.”

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