From the north to the south, east to the west, transporters are catching in on the COVID-19 pandemic physical distancing guidelines put in place by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic to hike fares even as commuters groan over the excessive charges. Those who spoke to the Catholic Herald newspaper said this unusual development has separated families apart for several months because they could not afford the money to travel freely as before. They urged the government to wade in to instill sanity before things get out of hand. Still, others lament that the high cost of transport fare is telling on their businesses couple with the low purchasing power of many households who finds it difficult to part with the extra charges imposed on goods and services owing to the high cost of transportation.
For Mr. Okoronkwo Onueke, a resident of Abakaliki, Ebonyi State who is a commodity merchant, transportating goods from Ebonyi State to Lagos has risen astronomically. He said the many police checkpoints mounted few kilometres apart have turned to toll gates of sorts. He said the security personnel at these checkpoints have figuratively speaking, turned them into ATM compelling the drivers, especially merchants like himself, to give away some money, sometimes as much as 1000-5000 naira, depending on the size and type of goods, failure to comply you may end up wasting the whole day with them, he lamented. Traders who would not want their goods or produce to spoil or rot away, particularly for the perishable ones would have no option but to transfer the extra cost to the end consumer.
How then would prices of goods not go up? He asked. Mrs. Eunice Imadhe (not real name) for personal reasons, said she came to Lagos at the beginning of the year before the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and that she cannot reunite with her family in far away Ogoja, Cross-River State owing to the high cost of fare even after the lifting of ban on inter-state movements. She would rather stay back in Lagos and manage with what she has against the backdrop of high cost of living. Commuters in Lagos are complaining bitterly asking the government to clampdown on drivers who not only violate physical distancing protocol but still charge higher fare, sometimes triple the normal cost even at short distances.
They insist that the state should take control of the cost of commuting within the state and save Lagosians the trauma of high cost of living with inflation soaring high thereby making life difficult for the average citizens. The cost of transportation across the country has increased astronomically since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic that has compelled commercial drivers to stick to the safety guidelines of carrying half the capacity of passengers or even less to prevent the spread of the deadly disease.
A journey from Lagos to south east and south south of the country that cost between 2000 and 7000 naira before the COVID-19 pandemic has increased between 12000-17000 naira. Travellers to the northern part of the country and Abuja or vice versa share the same experiences of fare hike between 10000-18000, again depending on the type of vehicle one is boarding. Nigerians are suffering and cannot breath well under the heavy burden of fare increase and say the government should act fast and arrest the situation before total collapse of the economy