• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Interstate transport fare crashes by 40% as insecurity mutes demand

Interstate travel

Six weeks after the Christmas and New Year celebration, interstate transport costs have crashed by at least 40 percent thanks to a drop in demand and a recent rise in the rate of kidnapping on Nigerian roads.

The cost of interstate transport reached a record high in December 2023 after doubling in June 2023 following the removal of petrol subsidy that pushed up the pump price of the product from N195/litre to as much as N630/litre, depending on the state.

BusinessDay findings show that travellers paid as much as N47,000 and N50,000 for a bus ticket to embark on an interstate trip in December.

This steep rise in transport fares prompted President Bola Tinubu to initiate a 50 percent rebate for Nigerians travelling by road in collaboration with some transport companies.

Fares have now declined on several interstate routes, although not back to the petrol subsidy era when a ticket on interstate hiace buses could be bought for between N9,500 and N11,000.

A bus ticket now goes for N25,000-N30,000 on business-class executive buses and N19,000-N21,000 on smart couches, popularly known as mini luxurious buses, according to information obtained from the official portal of GUO Transport Company and Libra Motors.

BusinessDay also discovered that securing a seat on a bus heading to Aba from Lagos, which cost as much as N50,000 on GUO Transport Company, now goes for N30,000, while a similar bus ticket now goes for N25,000 on Libra Motors.

A bus ticket from Lagos to Abuja, which cost as much as N49,000 during the festive period, is now N36,000 per seat.

“I travelled to my village in Enugu last week and paid N25,000 to secure a seat on a Libra Motors. The transport fare for travelling from city centres such as Abuja and Lagos to states in the East has reduced significantly,” a traveller, Festus Unaegbu, said.

Unaegbu said despite the decline in interstate fares, it is still difficult for common Nigerians to travel from their base to other states for business, social meetings and other personal reasons due to skyrocketing fares.

“My son paid N29,000 for a bus ticket from Lagos to Umuahia when he was going back to school two weeks back and this was a drop compared to N37,000 that my wife paid when she was returning from the village in January after the New Year,” said Chibuzor Ezeh, a Lagos-based businessman.

Ezeh said that it has not been easy for his family to pay such an exorbitant fare to transport his son schooling in Abia State University to and from Lagos to Umuahia since the transport fare started surging in June 2023.

“It hasn’t been easy for people like us because the transport costs have more than doubled compared to pre-subsidy removal days,” Ezeh said.

Meanwhile, the recent rise in the kidnap of passengers travelling on the roads has discouraged many from embarking on inter-state journeys.

For instance, at about 3:15 p.m. on February 9, 2024, a GUO Transport bus en route to Abuja from Lagos was attacked by bandits along the Ikare-Akoko area of the Akure Expressway.

The kidnappers ambushed and attacked oncoming vehicles including one of the Hiace buses from Lagos with passengers onboard. The bus driver was killed, and some passengers were abducted.

“I was supposed to attend a conference in Abuja last Tuesday, but I was forced to cancel because I had no money to fly now that a flight ticket to Abuja goes for over N100,000 on the economy seat,” said Demilade Akinpelu, a business executive.

Akinpelu told our correspondent that if the road was friendly, she would have gone by road but the recent reports on kidnapping, especially in Abuja, did not help her case in any way.

Eniola Abimbola said she also didn’t travel to Delta State last weekend because of kidnappers that were terrorising the roads.

According to her, what is happening in Nigeria today is becoming unimaginable for many people as road passengers are constantly in fear of the unknown.