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Yuletide: Tinubu cuts transport fare by 50%

ABUJA — President Bola Tinubu has directed a 50 percent cut in land transportation fares from today to January 4, 2024, across the country.

The President also approved zero fare for train transportation in all the states of the federation within the same period.

Reacting to the development, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, dismissed the announcement as unworkable, saying government cannot decree low fares by fiat. 

Minister of Solid Minerals Development and Chairman of Inter-Ministerial Committee on Presidential Intervention, Mr. Dele Alake, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Alake flanked by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris,  Minister of Transportation, Saidu Alkali  and the Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, Alake, said all the logistics on the implementation had been worked out with the Minister of Transportation, the transport unions and luxury bus owners.

The luxury buses have 22 designated routes for the inter-state transportation.

He said: “In the spirit of Christmas and the end of year festivities, President Tinubu, in another demonstration of his love for Nigerians, has approved that the Federal Government should intervene to bring down the cost of public transportation to allow our compatriots who want to travel to visit their loved ones and hometowns to do so without stress and the extra burden imposed by the high cost of transport around this period. 

“The President is well aware of the recent increase in cost of inter-state transportation and even for air travel. Traditionally, our people love to travel during Christmas and the end of year to be with families and friends and this has been the practice for ages. 

“We also know that globally, intra-country travels and movement of people, goods and services always peak around Christmas and end of the year because of socio-gravitational pull of the period which transporters always cash on to increase fares astronomically. 

“In recognition of the economic situation of the country which he is working very hard to turn around, President Tinubu wants Nigerians to be able to travel within Nigeria to wherever they want to go to meet their loved ones without the extra-burden of paying exorbitantly for inter-state public transportation.

“This special presidential intervention will commence Thursday, December 21. It will end on January 4, 2024. 

“From tomorrow (today), Nigerians wishing to embark on inter-state travel to any part of the country from Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Ibadan, Akure, Maiduguri, Sokoto and other major inter-state transportation hubs will be able to do so at half the cost.”

Speaking on reasons for engaging luxury bus Unions, the Minister of State for Transport, Saedu Alkali, said: “Why we decided to use luxury buses union is because they are more organised and more structured. So, we held a meeting with the president of the union and they gave us an idea on how much they charge on a normal day but during festive when the buses travel, they return empty and it is on that account that they have to increase the fair during festivities. That has been taken into account. We held several meetings with Mr President. 

“And why we decided to have 50 percent for the land transport, when you have this kind of initiative or programme to implement, you have to be mindful of the security situation. If you say it is for free, even those that did not intend to travel will just go to the park and say I want to travel. But with this 50 percent, they have the ticketing system.”

50% cut in transport fare unworkable—NLC 

Reacting to the development, the NLC, dismissed as unworkable the 50 percent cut in transport fare across the country, by the President, saying the President cannot decree low fares by fiat. 

President of NLC, Mr. Joe Ajaero,  said: “The question is whether the President or government has powers to decree how much should be charged by transporters around the country in free market economy which he is the chief proponent? 

“He clearly lacks such powers and cannot pretend to in anyway prescribe what private transporters can or cannot charge when his ill-conceived policies are driving the cost of transportation out of the reach of ordinary Nigerians.

“If this is not the usual propaganda that I think it is, how would government want to implement such directive? Perhaps, pay for all the buses and ask Nigerians to use them freely or what?

“These are unworkable logistics and they know it. Very simple; the cost of PMS and other petroleum products have gone up which has driven the cost of every other thing up. You do not expect a transporter to buy Petrol at N630 per litre and not recover his cost through hiking transport fares. 

“It is the poor masses like us that will always bear the brunt. If the government had listened to wise counsel from NLC to expedite action on the mass transportation system through the CNG alternative, which was our brainchild, perhaps, those buses would be on the road now providing cheaper services and low fares to Nigerians

“You cannot decree low fares by fiat. It does not work that way. Businesses are stimulated either positively or negatively by government policies. Tinubu’s economic policies have led to this mass suffering and the angst Nigerians are faced with.

“The government should stop lying to Nigerians and face the serious business of governance. Putting people first in all their policies and actions is what will solve the problem but when everything is sacrificed on the altar of politics, this is what you get – massive suffering all over the nation.”

It’s a big joke—Transport operators

Also,  luxury bus operators in Abuja, expressed shock and feigned ignorance over the development. 

Vanguard’s correspondent who visited the Young Shall Grow Motors, observed that the fare for the executive bus price from Abuja to Owerri and Umahia, costs N35,100, Abuja to Enugu, Onitsha costs N35,100, while Abuja to Abia and Port-Harcourt costs N40, 000. 

Also, morning Hiace bus charges are: from Abuja to Port-Harcourt, Aba, Owerri, Umahia, costs N30,100, while Abuja to Enugu and Onitsha costs N27,100.

For night, Abuja to Lagos costs N26,100, Abuja to Onitsha costs N22,100, Abuja to Owerri Costs N24,100 and Abuja to Abia and Port-Harcourt costs N26,100. 

One of the top officials of Young Shall Grow Motors, Abuja Branch, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said government’s move was a mere publicity stunt, stating that they were not even consulted prior to the decision.

She said the aforementioned prices would not go lower, but would be increased soon. 

Suggesting that the government has also started implementing the directive on train services, she said: “They are not serious. This country is just a joke. They think private operators enjoy what government operators do. Trains run on what? And buses run on what? Please let’s be guided.

Also, another staff of Ekeson transport, Emeka Ndubuisi, Abuja Branch, said: “I am actually not aware if they carried private sector along in this. They are funny if they didn’t because we are not aware. If we were carried along by now we would have been called for a meeting to discuss this but no. 

“On the other hand, reducing transport fare by 50 percent is an impractical and unsustainable decision for interstate transport operators.This move completely disregards the operational costs involved in running a transport business. Fuel prices, maintenance expenses, and employee salaries have all been steadily increasing, and reducing fares by such a significant amount will only further strain our already struggling industry.

Another counter staff of God is Good Motors, GIGM, Utako, Abuja, who preferred anonymity, said: “Even though the idea is a good one but, it is not possible o. We don’t trust this government. The lies are too much. 

“Infact, the decision to reduce transport fare by 50 percent seems like a hasty and uninformed move. They fail to realise that interstate transport operators have been grappling with financial challenges for years due to rising operational costs. 

Instead of offering feasible solutions to address these issues, implementing such a drastic fare reduction will only lead to further financial instability for transport operators.”

NRC, RTEAN, NARTO to comply

Meanwhile, reacting, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, Mr. Fidet Okhiria, said: “This is a good step in the right direction. All preparations are underway to ensure that the implementation commences tomorrow (today). I will call all my operational officers and partners to carry out this directive. 

“The modality for this is us calling on the travelers to get their tickets online because that is the only way to prevent rowdiness at the station. So, get your ticket online to have access to board the train. We are expecting Nigerians to come to the station without tickets. 

“We still assume that people will get their tickets online free of charge. We have told our partners to open the platforms, so that people can get the tickets for free. But, I insist you must first get your ticket before coming to the station from tomorrow (today).”

On its part, the National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, lauded the government’s initiative and pledged its full cooperation, saying the body would comply.

NARTO’s Executive Secretary, Aloga Ogbogo, while lauding the initiative, also tasked the Federal Government on effective implementation. 

He said: “Currently, we cannot confirm if that is the reality but I know we were invited for a meeting by the Ministry of Trade and Commerce and we were given briefs on it as to how they intend to go about it. We made some inputs and the policy is a step in the right direction. 

“It is going to assist Nigerians to travel in the yuletide. The government is showing that it is concerned about the well-being of Nigerians and for me it is a step in the right direction if only it will be properly implemented. 

“The modalities of payment will be fashioned out by a consultant if travelers will pay to the transport company and the company will generate a manifest and based on that the transport company will get a refund based on the manifest which will contain the number of people and the discount.

“Also, a platform will be created for transporters to login and present their details as to where they are going and the amount paid. If it is well implemented, Nigerians will benefit from it.

Similarly, Secretary General of the Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, Yusuf Adeniyi, said: “The government has good intention of cushioning the hardship of the commuters during this festive period. We have been working on the modalities and how to effectively do it so that it will come to reality. 

“To be honest, it is real and I can assure you that anybody who will be boarding our vehicles from various places and locations of this country, with effect from tomorrow (today), will enjoy such facilities.

“All the necessary machineries and compensation modalities have been put in place. The Federal Government is serious. They have made a deal that anybody who boards a vehicle that has all necessary information, all that we try to do is put proper transparent arrangement whereby there will be no fraud and the government has shown readiness to pay.”

Fares skyrocket

Meanwhile, less than five days to Christmas, fares charged by road transport operators on inter-state trips have gone up by about 50 percent.

There are also fears that the fares would go further up beyond 100 percent as more people travel from the major cities to their hometowns for the end of the year’s festivities.

By Theodore Opara,  Victor AhiumaYoung , Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Ezra Ukanwa

ABUJA — President Bola Tinubu has directed a 50 percent cut in land transportation fares from today to January 4, 2024, across the country.

The President also approved zero fare for train transportation in all the states of the federation within the same period.

https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.609.1_en.html#goog_20680944

Reacting to the development, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, dismissed the announcement as unworkable, saying government cannot decree low fares by fiat. 

Minister of Solid Minerals Development and Chairman of Inter-Ministerial Committee on Presidential Intervention, Mr. Dele Alake, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Alake flanked by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris,  Minister of Transportation, Saidu Alkali  and the Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, Alake, said all the logistics on the implementation had been worked out with the Minister of Transportation, the transport unions and luxury bus owners.

The luxury buses have 22 designated routes for the inter-state transportation.

He said: “In the spirit of Christmas and the end of year festivities, President Tinubu, in another demonstration of his love for Nigerians, has approved that the Federal Government should intervene to bring down the cost of public transportation to allow our compatriots who want to travel to visit their loved ones and hometowns to do so without stress and the extra burden imposed by the high cost of transport around this period. 

“The President is well aware of the recent increase in cost of inter-state transportation and even for air travel. Traditionally, our people love to travel during Christmas and the end of year to be with families and friends and this has been the practice for ages. 

“We also know that globally, intra-country travels and movement of people, goods and services always peak around Christmas and end of the year because of socio-gravitational pull of the period which transporters always cash on to increase fares astronomically. 

“In recognition of the economic situation of the country which he is working very hard to turn around, President Tinubu wants Nigerians to be able to travel within Nigeria to wherever they want to go to meet their loved ones without the extra-burden of paying exorbitantly for inter-state public transportation.

Related News

“This special presidential intervention will commence Thursday, December 21. It will end on January 4, 2024. 

“From tomorrow (today), Nigerians wishing to embark on inter-state travel to any part of the country from Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Ibadan, Akure, Maiduguri, Sokoto and other major inter-state transportation hubs will be able to do so at half the cost.”

Speaking on reasons for engaging luxury bus Unions, the Minister of State for Transport, Saedu Alkali, said: “Why we decided to use luxury buses union is because they are more organised and more structured. So, we held a meeting with the president of the union and they gave us an idea on how much they charge on a normal day but during festive when the buses travel, they return empty and it is on that account that they have to increase the fair during festivities. That has been taken into account. We held several meetings with Mr President. 

“And why we decided to have 50 percent for the land transport, when you have this kind of initiative or programme to implement, you have to be mindful of the security situation. If you say it is for free, even those that did not intend to travel will just go to the park and say I want to travel. But with this 50 percent, they have the ticketing system.”

https://0fa98d717efc7d9771a2bbaf3d7bdeac.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-40/html/container.html

50% cut in transport fare unworkable—NLC 

Reacting to the development, the NLC, dismissed as unworkable the 50 percent cut in transport fare across the country, by the President, saying the President cannot decree low fares by fiat. 

President of NLC, Mr. Joe Ajaero,  said: “The question is whether the President or government has powers to decree how much should be charged by transporters around the country in free market economy which he is the chief proponent? 

“He clearly lacks such powers and cannot pretend to in anyway prescribe what private transporters can or cannot charge when his ill-conceived policies are driving the cost of transportation out of the reach of ordinary Nigerians.

“If this is not the usual propaganda that I think it is, how would government want to implement such directive? Perhaps, pay for all the buses and ask Nigerians to use them freely or what?

“These are unworkable logistics and they know it. Very simple; the cost of PMS and other petroleum products have gone up which has driven the cost of every other thing up. You do not expect a transporter to buy Petrol at N630 per litre and not recover his cost through hiking transport fares. 

“It is the poor masses like us that will always bear the brunt. If the government had listened to wise counsel from NLC to expedite action on the mass transportation system through the CNG alternative, which was our brainchild, perhaps, those buses would be on the road now providing cheaper services and low fares to Nigerians

“You cannot decree low fares by fiat. It does not work that way. Businesses are stimulated either positively or negatively by government policies. Tinubu’s economic policies have led to this mass suffering and the angst Nigerians are faced with.

“The government should stop lying to Nigerians and face the serious business of governance. Putting people first in all their policies and actions is what will solve the problem but when everything is sacrificed on the altar of politics, this is what you get – massive suffering all over the nation.”

It’s a big joke—Transport operators

Also,  luxury bus operators in Abuja, expressed shock and feigned ignorance over the development. 

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Vanguard’s correspondent who visited the Young Shall Grow Motors, observed that the fare for the executive bus price from Abuja to Owerri and Umahia, costs N35,100, Abuja to Enugu, Onitsha costs N35,100, while Abuja to Abia and Port-Harcourt costs N40, 000. 

Also, morning Hiace bus charges are: from Abuja to Port-Harcourt, Aba, Owerri, Umahia, costs N30,100, while Abuja to Enugu and Onitsha costs N27,100.

For night, Abuja to Lagos costs N26,100, Abuja to Onitsha costs N22,100, Abuja to Owerri Costs N24,100 and Abuja to Abia and Port-Harcourt costs N26,100. 

One of the top officials of Young Shall Grow Motors, Abuja Branch, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said government’s move was a mere publicity stunt, stating that they were not even consulted prior to the decision.

She said the aforementioned prices would not go lower, but would be increased soon. 

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Suggesting that the government has also started implementing the directive on train services, she said: “They are not serious. This country is just a joke. They think private operators enjoy what government operators do. Trains run on what? And buses run on what? Please let’s be guided.

Also, another staff of Ekeson transport, Emeka Ndubuisi, Abuja Branch, said: “I am actually not aware if they carried private sector along in this. They are funny if they didn’t because we are not aware. If we were carried along by now we would have been called for a meeting to discuss this but no. 

“On the other hand, reducing transport fare by 50 percent is an impractical and unsustainable decision for interstate transport operators.This move completely disregards the operational costs involved in running a transport business. Fuel prices, maintenance expenses, and employee salaries have all been steadily increasing, and reducing fares by such a significant amount will only further strain our already struggling industry.

Another counter staff of God is Good Motors, GIGM, Utako, Abuja, who preferred anonymity, said: “Even though the idea is a good one but, it is not possible o. We don’t trust this government. The lies are too much. 

“Infact, the decision to reduce transport fare by 50 percent seems like a hasty and uninformed move. They fail to realise that interstate transport operators have been grappling with financial challenges for years due to rising operational costs. 

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“Instead of offering feasible solutions to address these issues, implementing such a drastic fare reduction will only lead to further financial instability for transport operators.”

NRC, RTEAN, NARTO to comply

Meanwhile, reacting, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, Mr. Fidet Okhiria, said: “This is a good step in the right direction. All preparations are underway to ensure that the implementation commences tomorrow (today). I will call all my operational officers and partners to carry out this directive. 

“The modality for this is us calling on the travelers to get their tickets online because that is the only way to prevent rowdiness at the station. So, get your ticket online to have access to board the train. We are expecting Nigerians to come to the station without tickets. 

“We still assume that people will get their tickets online free of charge. We have told our partners to open the platforms, so that people can get the tickets for free. But, I insist you must first get your ticket before coming to the station from tomorrow (today).”

On its part, the National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, lauded the government’s initiative and pledged its full cooperation, saying the body would comply. 

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NARTO’s Executive Secretary, Aloga Ogbogo, while lauding the initiative, also tasked the Federal Government on effective implementation. 

He said: “Currently, we cannot confirm if that is the reality but I know we were invited for a meeting by the Ministry of Trade and Commerce and we were given briefs on it as to how they intend to go about it. We made some inputs and the policy is a step in the right direction. 

“It is going to assist Nigerians to travel in the yuletide. The government is showing that it is concerned about the well-being of Nigerians and for me it is a step in the right direction if only it will be properly implemented. 

“The modalities of payment will be fashioned out by a consultant if travelers will pay to the transport company and the company will generate a manifest and based on that the transport company will get a refund based on the manifest which will contain the number of people and the discount.

“Also, a platform will be created for transporters to login and present their details as to where they are going and the amount paid. If it is well implemented, Nigerians will benefit from it.

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Similarly, Secretary General of the Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, Yusuf Adeniyi, said: “The government has good intention of cushioning the hardship of the commuters during this festive period. We have been working on the modalities and how to effectively do it so that it will come to reality. 

“To be honest, it is real and I can assure you that anybody who will be boarding our vehicles from various places and locations of this country, with effect from tomorrow (today), will enjoy such facilities.

“All the necessary machineries and compensation modalities have been put in place. The Federal Government is serious. They have made a deal that anybody who boards a vehicle that has all necessary information, all that we try to do is put proper transparent arrangement whereby there will be no fraud and the government has shown readiness to pay.”

Fares skyrocket

Meanwhile, less than five days to Christmas, fares charged by road transport operators on inter-state trips have gone up by about 50 percent.

There are also fears that the fares would go further up beyond 100 percent as more people travel from the major cities to their hometowns for the end of the year’s festivities.

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This is coming a few months after the fares were raised, following the increase in fuel price resulting from the removal of fuel subsidy.

A survey by Vanguard, yesterday revealed that a trip from Lagos to Onitsha via a minibus, which hitherto attracted N20,000 had risen to N30,000.

Transporters attributed the hike in transportation fares to the fact that movement within the Christmas festive period was usually one-sided, from the main cities like Lagos to the villages, especially the eastern parts of the country.

“According to Mr. Chijioke Mbaonu, a Toyota Sienna commercial driver,  “The hike in price is usually designed to cushion the cost of fuel used to return to the city to pick waiting passengers in Lagos.

“We carry full load from Lagos and drive back empty because there won’t be passengers returning to Lagos. At this period, people prefer to celebrate the Christmas in the villages with their loved ones who they have not seen for ages.”

He said that the trend would also be reversed after the Christmas and new year celebrations but not as high as  being experienced because passengers do not rush like during the Christmas week.

SourceVANGUARD

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