Holidaymakers travelling by road from city centres such as Lagos and Abuja, state to other parts of the country for Christmas celebration are paying higher fares.
This is due to the increasing scarcity of petrol resulting in long vehicular queues in filling stations and price hikes, coupled with the rising inflation in the country that has crimped spending power.
BusinessDay’s recent visit to the departure terminals of some of the popular interstate transporters shows that travellers, who used to pay between N11,500 to N12,500 per trip were charged between N27,500 and N31, 500 on a one-way trip from Lagos or Abuja to Owerri in Imo State.
“The cost of travelling by road has skyrocketed and travelling by road has become very expensive as if one is travelling by air,” Sunday Ubosi, a traveller, told BusinessDay in Lagos.
Ubosi said he paid about N100,000 on December 19 to secure four seats for his family of four to travel from Lagos to Enugu.
He said the transport fare was increased by N2,500 in less than one week after his family left Lagos for the eastern part of the country.
“I was supposed to travel with my family but I could not meet up with the money needed for the transportation fare. So, I had to stay back in Lagos to hustle to see if I will see the money to join my family in the village before the New Year celebration,” Ubosi said.
Bamidele Ojo, another traveller, who left Lagos with his wife to Abuja for a wedding ceremony of a relative, said he paid N66,000 for two seats.
Ojo said his budget was around N20,000 per seat but only to get to the bus terminal to discover that the transport fare was higher.
Ogo David, a driver with GUO Transport Company, told BusinessDay that the high interstate transportation fare could be attributed to the scarcity of petrol in the country.
According to him, the scarcity of fuel is taking a toll on motorists, especially interstate transporters who need to fill their car tanks twice before getting to their destinations.
“The long queue at the petrol stations is suffocating because it kills man-hours, particularly now that is ‘our season’ and the transport business is time-sensitive. In cases where we find petrol to buy, we buy as much as N200/litre and N240/litre, depending on cities,” he said.
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John Osaro, a driver with Agofure Motors, said that aside from the scarcity of petrol, transport companies usually double the amount people pay to embark on Christmas trips.
According to him, passenger traffic is usually one-sided during the festive season such that transport companies have more passengers moving from cities such as Abuja and Lagos to the hinterland than those coming from the hinterland to the city centres.
In situations like this, Osaro said, transporters usually ask their drivers to run empty back to the city centres to pick up passengers.
“My management only gives us, the drivers, money to cover the cost of petrol and asks us to return to Lagos or Abuja to pick up passengers. This is why they increased the transportation cost to cover the cost of returning empty. In such a situation, the driver can only pick few passengers from the roadside,” Osaro said.
Queues of vehicles struggling to buy petrol from filling stations had previously grown shorter but became worse over the weekend in major cities.
This, according to oil marketers, can be attributed to the shortfall in the supply of petrol to them by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.