Nigerians from all walks of life are thrilled by the Presidential intervention mitigating the high cost of transport this festive season. Cross-country travelling to see loved ones at the end of the year has been the norm for Nigerians, for decades, irrespective of religious inclinations. Therefore, the far-reaching effect of discounted inter-state bus fares and free train rides on the citizenry, cannot be overemphasised.
In announcing the Federal Government’s gesture last Wednesday, the chairman of the Yuletide transport subsidy inter-ministerial committee and Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake had revealed that from 21st December 2023 to 4th January, 2024, Nigerians will enjoy a 50% discount on inter-state bus transport along 22 major routes, while the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) will be offering free train rides within the same period, in what is now widely acclaimed as a novel, pro-masses initiative by any Federal Government in Nigeria’s history.
With a target of lifting 5 million commuters this season, government is partnering with major transport companies like Good is Good (GIG) motors, Chisco Transport, Young Shall Grow, God Bless Ezenwata and Area Motor. In view of high demand across the country, the routes have since been scaled up from 22 to 28 while citizens travelling from Lagos – Nigeria’s commercial hub, to other states like Akure and Ilorin via mini buses from the Oshodi bus interchange, are also beneficiaries.
It will be recalled that the attendant effect of fuel subsidy removal has led to skyrocketing transport fares which has necessitated palliatives from government to cushion its effect. Feedback from citizens across the country have indicated that this transport subsidy has the most significant impact, thus far.
Deborah, at the God is Good Motors (GIGM) Park in Ajah Lagos, captured the mood of passengers across the country. “I’m travelling from Ajah here in Lagos. I’m going to Benin and I just received my 50% discount palliative from the Federal Government (displaying her receipt), and I’m so excited. Thank you so much, Mr. President! Ebele, travelling from Mararaba, Abuja aboard the GIGM bus to Edo state captured his excitement thus, “It’s a good feeling. I got the refund of 50% of my fares. I had paid N36,800 initially but I got half of that back. This is a real palliative and I’m grateful to President Bola Tinubu.
Another commuter, Lucky travelling from Mararaba, Abuja to Owerri, Imo State had this to say, ” The original fare was N32,300 but on getting here, they said the President has given us a 50% discount and they refunded it back to me. I just received my own alert. Long live the President, Long live Nigeria!
Impact stories also abound from train commuters along the Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna routes. A twitter user @ayotem4real had tweeted, “Just got two free train tickets ( Lagos – Ibadan) for my son and mum. En route to the Babatunde Fashola station.Thank you, Mr. President”. A passenger aboard the Idu train station in Abuja to Kaduna revealed that “For those who have validated their names, it’s a smooth ride from the Idu train station in Abuja”.
Another elderly commuter aboard the Idu train station to Kaduna, showered encomiums on the President. ” Thank God, the President has offered this free ride to us from Abuja to Kaduna and for others across the country. The President is now trying but some are trying to sabotage the system. They will not succeed. My prayer is that Nigeria will be better. When government is making efforts, it shall affect all Nigerians and I say thanks to government. They should keep it up”.
In just 48 hours since the commencement of the subsidised transport scheme, the implementation has been impressive across the country, it will only get better as the days progress. It should also be noted that after the holidays, Nigerians can take advantage of the discounted rates to return to their respective bases, on or before 4th January, 2024.
With this palliative that is touching lives, down to the grassroots, it is apparent that President Tinubu is deeply committed to the welfare of the people and working round the clock for their shared prosperity. An apt message can be deduced from this intervention – enjoy your holidays!
Tomori is the Special Assistant on Media to the Chairman of the Yuletide Transport subsidy Inter-ministerial committee and Minister of Solid Minerals Development