Every end of year, motor parks are always filled with travellers going to spend the holidays with their relations and friends. It is always a period of boom for transport owners. This is because the fares are hiked most times above 100 percent. Most people travel many days before the Christmas in order to avoid the rush and the hike in transportation fares.
Those who cannot help it, travel a day or two before Christmas and have to cough out the increased fares, in addition to coping with the rush on the roads. This practice which is not in any way justified has created a lot of financial stress for many people. The increase in charges is just too much to ignore. Some people have to travel from one motor park to another in a bid to get a better bargain. However, getting cheaper fares comes with it a lot of inconveniences by way of long wait for the vehicles to be filled and sometimes arriving at your destination way behind schedule.
An attendant at one of the parks in the city centre, Benji Okeke told Leadership that the type of buses that charge lower than the others wasted a lot of time before being filled up because such transport companies were hardly known by travellers, many of whom were not prepared to take any risks.
“People will come out as early as 5.30 am to get buses. They stay until noon before they leave. Some of them get angry and call on the transport company to give them back their money. But the thing is that when you have paid, you have already paid,” he said.
Even with Christmas gone, some travellers who are going to celebrate the New Year with their relations still complain about the hike in the transport fares. The hike in fares is a season thing and remains until the third week of January most times.
When Leadership visited some parks in Zuba, it was observed that transport fare from Abuja to Enugu was N4500 for air conditioned buses and N4000 for non air conditioned buses as compared to the N2100 foraAir conditioned buses and N1900 for non air conditioned buses before the festive period. In some places, the difference in the new fares being charged was as high as N3500.
Those travelling to Onitsha were paying N5100 or N4500 depending on the transport company as opposed to the N2700 and N2000 they would have paid if they had travelled before the yuletide.
The transport fare to Port Harcourt was N6000, N6650 as against N3600, N3500 charged on the same route before now.
Fare to Abakiliki was pegged at N4900 as against N2700 before the festive period while that of Aba and Auchi were N5500 and N3000 respectively.
One of the travellers, Chudi Ifeka who spoke to Leadership said he had waited to travel after the Christmas hoping that the transport fare would come down but expressed surprise that it was still high.
‘’If it wasn’t for the wedding I am to attend on New Year day, I would have cancelled this journey. I don’t have any option than to pay it. I was also surprised to see that there are many others like me who have waited for the fare to come down,’’ he said.
Another traveller, Helen Odi who also complained about the fare expressed worry that she not only had to pay for herself but also the little luggage she was travelling with.
“I bought this bag of rice to take home to my mother. The amount they are asking me to pay is quite much. They were telling me to bring N1000. I had to look for another place where the charge was a bit low. I have learnt my lesson. No more luggage while travelling,’’ she added.
Another park attendant, Martins Nicholas told Leadership that transport fare had continued to go up and would only return to normal after the festive period. He said compared to last year, the transport companies experienced low turnout of travellers and attributed it to the security in the country which forced many families to leave the far north.
“Because of insecurity in the North, most people went to celebrate the Christmas and the New Year in their states last year. If you come to this park, around 5 am, you would see lots of people with their luggage. They also had members of families with them,” he said.