Road transport is by far the most common means of transportation in Nigeria. One of the main reasons for this is its affordability and availability when compared to other transportation methods.
However, these benefits may soon vanish into thin air. The transport sector with just about every other sector in the country has been grappling with the challenges posed by the current economic turndown faced by the country.
As such, transport business owners, under their various associations have been mandating double-digit price hikes that may soon leave the common Nigerian stranded at the bus terminals.
First, the Association of Luxurious Buses Owners of Nigeria (LUBAN) earlier announced a 35% increase in fares along all their routes. Similarly, yesterday, the Association of Private Transport Company Owners of Nigeria (APTCON), said in Lagos yesterday that a 40 per cent increase on road transport fare effective Monday, September 19.
Considering that local intra-city routes have also experienced hikes, not usually mentioned due to their inconspicuous nature, it leaves one wondering how many Nigerians will get stuck at bus terminals due to inability to pay transport fares.
One, though, cannot fault the reasons given by these transport operators for hiking their prices. Increase in fuel prices, increase in maintenance costs, increase in cost prices of vehicles used and bank interest rates all work together to form a very exacting environment for the operators.
According to a statement released by APTCON, many operators ‘have taken a significant toll on the revenue of private transport company owners across Nigeria’ with many members ‘express[ing] their inability to pay salaries, while some others had to shut down operations completely’
The likely outcome of this interplay of actions and reactions is a reduced movement of people, goods and transactions across the country. One fears that for a country already under recession, this can do no good but rather further sink the country into economic mire.
Parts of this article originally appeared in Guardian Newspapers