More Nigerians are now becoming skeptical about travelling from their states of residence to other parts of the country for business and other engagements due to the high transport fare paid on a one-week road trip.
Nigeria’s interstate transport fares started soaring in early June after the removal of the fuel subsidy, which increased the petrol pump price from N195/litre to as high as N617/litre.
Our reporter’s recent visit to the departure terminals of some popular interstate transporters revealed that travellers, who used to pay between N11,500 and N12,500 per trip during the off-season, are now paying between N26,000 and N33,500 per one-week trip from one state to another, representing over 100 percent increase.
According to the official online portal of GUO Transport Company, a traveller is expected to pay as much as N33,500 to secure a seat on a Sienna car and N26,000 on a Hiace bus for a trip from Lagos to Owerri; a bus ticket from Lagos to Abuja cost as much as N33,000 while Lagos to Port Harcourt cost N27,000.
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To travel with God is Good Motors, another mobility company, a bus ticket from Aba to Lagos goes for as much as N26,000; Uyo-Lagos goes for N28,300; Asaba-Lagos goes for N25,000 while Edo-Lagos goes for N21,300.
“With the cost of travelling by road hitting the rooftop in the past two months, embarking on a road trip has become very expensive such that intended travellers must save up for a longer time to be able to secure seats,” said Olufunmi Ubog, a 42-year-old mother of four.
Ubog said her greatest concern was the upcoming burial of her mother-in-law scheduled to take place in Akwa State in September.
According to her, the woman died earlier in the year, but the family decided to put the burial in September to be able to plan and gather the resources needed to bury the dead.
She pointed out that extending the burial date has turned out to be a huge mistake not only due to the huge economic loss involved in organising events in Nigeria now owing to the soaring prices of items but also due to the cost of transporting a family of six from Lagos to Akwa Ibom State. Ubog said she and her husband have to set aside at least N350,000 or more on transport fares alone.
“I don’t know what this country is turning into and where we are heading to with this rising cost of living. It is becoming very difficult for the poor man and their families to survive,” she added.
Also, Mike Ugwu, a Lagos-based businessman, who just returned from a trip to Enugu two weeks back, said travelling in Nigeria has become a ‘luxury’ as poor people can no longer afford transport fare to embark on longer journeys.
Ugwu, who travelled to Enugu when the pump price of petrol was between N488 and N515, said he paid as much as N17,500 to secure a seat on a Sienna car to get to his destination in Enugu from Lagos.
According to him, the return journey was a bit fair as he paid about N12,500 from Asaba to Lagos.
Ogochukwu David, a driver with the GUO Transport Company, told our reporter that the high pump price was seriously affecting transport business in Nigeria.
According to him, the company spends over N95,000 per one-way trip just to fuel the Toyota Sienna that he uses for interstate journeys, which has the capacity to carry just seven passengers.
This, he said, is aside from other costs including paying the drivers and maintaining the vehicle.
The rising cost of transportation is having a serious impact on families whose children are schooling in states that are located in other regions of the country.
For instance, there are families residing in Lagos, but their children are schooling in universities that are in the South-East or South-South regions. These parents are also worried about the impact of transportation on the total cost of their children’s education.
For instance, Anthony Elechi, a Lagos-based civil engineer, whose son schools in one of the universities in Abia State, expressed worries over the impact of high transportation fares on family expenditure.
According to him, the son’s school will soon vacate, and he has gone to inquire about the transport fare from Abia State to Lagos, only to discover that it is nothing less than N26,000.
Elechi said: “I am presently looking for where to get N30,000 to fund the return of my son to Lagos when their school vacates. Transport is N26,000 but I have to raise about N30,000 so that he can take the vehicle to the park and also have pocket money while on the journey. This boy left for school in January, and we have been talking on the phone since then. Therefore, he needs to be with his family after such a long time.
“My greatest concern is that after their vacation, we need to raise at least N300,000 for him to return to school because the tuition fee, which was a little above N50,000 before is now almost N100,000. This is aside another N100,000 for accommodation, before taking about money for feeding and other school supplies. To live in Nigeria is really tough these days.”
Elechi is not alone in the present economic hardship and cost of living crisis being faced by families and low-income earners in Nigeria.
Sunday Lawson, a Lagos-based businessman and a father of three, whose daughter is schooling in one of the unity schools in Rivers State, said he paid almost N30,000 a few days ago for his daughter to return to Lagos for the long vacation.
Lawson acknowledged that he used to budget about N30,000 as two-way transportation costs for his daughter per school term to travel to Rivers State and return to Lagos during vacation.
He however lamented that the amount has now doubled to at least N60,000 per term, which is very expensive for a family like his that is just managing to survive amidst the present economic situation in Nigeria.