Thursday, July 10, 2003

High transport fares, fuel scarcity persist

By Ikenna Emeka Okpani

Three days after the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), called off its nationwide strike, residents of Abuja who have been under the yoke of high transport fares and fuel scarcity are yet to have a respite.

Intercity transport fares in Abuja have continued to be high despite the suspension of the strike as well as commencement of sales of fuel in some filing stations.

Abuja Trust can report that drivers are charging various amounts for the same destinations depending on the size of the vehicles and probably the source of the fuel powering the vehicles.

From Wuse to Life Camp by mini buses cost as much as N40, while taxis charge N50. Luxury buses, which ply the route, charged N30 instead of the usual N20 naira during rush hours.

From Wuse to Karmo cost commuters between N50 and N80 depending on the vehicle boarded. Molue as, they are popularly called, charge N50 while ordinary buses charge N80. However smaller buses, which have more than 2 seats at the back and therefore carry more passengers charge N10 for the same distance.

Commuters moving from Berger to Kubwa who were coughing out as much as N150 at the heat of the strike we gathered, paid between N80 and N100 yesterday instead of the usual N60.

From Berger to Bwari, which peaked at N200 during the strike, we gathered cost commuters as much as N150 instead of N80 before the strike.

From Wuse to Federal Secretariat by taxi, which used to be N30, operators charged as much as N50 by yesterday while regular mini buses charged N40 and N50.

Some workers who came to work at the Federal Secretariat were almost stranded, as there were only few buses to take them back home.

As the few buses approached, hundreds of civil servants going home to Mararaba, Berger, Wuse and Nyanya rushed and struggled to fill two or three vacancies still left in the buses.

Some residents who spoke to our reporter complained that they didnít know when the situation would abate while others said they expected some form of normalcy by the weekend.

"I sincerely hope that the fuel scarcity issue will disappear by the weekend so that life will return to normal," a civil servant told our reporter.

Meanwhile our reporter visited some of the filling stations and can report that some of them have resumed sales at the new pump price while others were said to have refused to sell until adjustments were made to their pumps.

However some drivers complained that those filling stations selling at the negotiated new price must have under adjusted their pumps that they were getting less than a litre for N34.

As a result of an unending queue at the NNPC mega station, which sell fuel for 24 hours, all the road from Ali Brother to Ministry of Defence Area 10, along Olusegun Obasanjo Way have been blocked by vehicles.

Commuters passing through the route had to be diverted to other routes to reduce the congestion and traffic jam.

This has resulted in total cut off of the Wuse new market such that market women bringing goods to the market had to stop at Area 10 or Ali brothers and hire barrow men who now cart their goods to the market at exorbitant charges.

Consumers who come to the market for their shopping also had to trek to the market from where their buses could access the route up to.