Fuel subsidy: Commuters groan as transport fares surge

FOLLOWING the “fuel subsidy is gone” declaration by Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the consequent hike of petrol pump price by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCLtd), there has been a surge in transport fares across the country, leaving commuters in great agony.

The ICIR observed that transport fares in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have risen by, at least, 50 per cent in most parts of Abuja.

Before Tinubu announced fuel subsidy removal during his inauguration speech on Monday, May 29, taxi drivers were charging N200 per passenger from Life Camp junction to Wuse market in Abuja.


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However, by Wednesday, May 31, the prices had jumped to N300, with some drivers charging more.

Transportation from Berger to Mpape, which was N250, now costs N500, a 100 per cent increase.

Many residents of the FCT who work within the city centre and live in satellite towns, are being confronted with surging transport costs.

An FCT resident Ayo Taiye who resides in Jikwoyi, described the situation as “difficult.”

Taiye said, “I am coming from Central Area. Before, to Berger, it was N150, but now it is N300. It is so difficult, how much do I collect as salary? If you remove this transport fare from my salary, that means it will be difficult for me to feed.

Transportation costs in parts of Nigeria
Transportation costs in parts of Nigeria

“I am going to Kubwa now, I don’t even know how to get there. I don’t know how to manage my money to enable me get there. At the moment, I am hungry. But I can’t eat because I don’t know the amount I will pay for transport now. I’m hearing that it is N1,000. I am still coming back here, I live in Jikwoyi.”

The transport fare from Gwagwalada to Berger, usually N500, now costs between N1,000 and N1,200.

Commuters are now paying between N700 and N800 from Berger to Dei-dei, a trip which used to cost about N400.

In cases where transport fares have not risen significantly, The ICIR observed that drivers have increased the number of passengers transported per trip.

At a small motor park near Banex Plaza Wuse II, drivers increased the number of passengers being conveyed from four to six persons while charging N200 for a trip to the Wuse market, which used to be N150.

In other parts of the country, the situation is no different, as the cost of transportation from Gbagada to Oshodi in Lagos state has risen from N200 to N500, an increase of 150 per cent.

Also, residents paid about N700 for a trip to Ojodu-Berger in Lagos from Mowe, Ogun state, a journey which would ordinarily cost N400.

A resident of Port-Harcourt in Rivers state John Ogu described, in an interview with The ICIR, the situation as “frustrating.”

Ogu said, “From Air Force to Oyigbo was N250, now it’s N350 or N400. From Oyigbo to Mile 1 Park used to be N300, now it’s N500. It is quite frustrating,” he said.

In Ekiti state, a trip from Oye-Ekiti to Isan-Ekiti now costs N700 against a previous price of N300.

Also, transportation from Oye-Ekiti to Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, rose to N1,000 from N500.

The minimum wage in Nigeria is N30,000. Also, more than 60 per cent of the population live in poverty, most of whom will be affected by the sudden increase in transport fares.

Fuel stations in many states have shut down operations since Monday, May 29 following Tinubu’s speech, and long queues appeared in the few stations that were operating due to panic-buying.

State governors had warned fuel retailers against hoarding the product. However, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCLtd) announced the official increase of pump prices from an average of N195 per litre to a range of N488 to N550.

Many commuters have resorted to trekking long distances to conserve transport costs, while motorists complain of low patronage.

“I’ve spent over N4,000 already this morning. I’m supposed to take another drop to where I’m going to now, but I just have to do some exercise to get cheaper transport. We didn’t expect this. It is too early,” an FCT resident Temitope Olawale told The ICIR.




     

     

    Analysts and many other Nigerians informed on the oil and gas issue agree that fuel subsidy should be removed, as it has been identified as a cause of declining financial resources and an avenue for smuggling and corruption.

    Although efforts have been made to remove or reduce fuel subsidy, Nigerians have always resisted them due to the anticipated hardship that the action would cause.

    According to data from the NNPCLtd,  N4.39 trillion ($9.7 billion) was spent on petrol subsidy in 2022.

    The umbrella body for workers in Nigeria, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), have led many Nigerians in faulting Tinubu’s sudden removal of subsidy without plans to cushion the economic hardships that could result therefrom.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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