Reporter : UCHE NDEKE
Transportation fares in Anambra State have continued to increase slightly as many citizens journey home for the yuletide celebration.
A visit by Radio Nigeria round some of the motor parks in Awka revealed that the number of travelers was fewer than it was in previous years, a situation which some of those interviewed attributed to COVID-19 pandemic presently ravaging the globe.
Yuletide is usually a period when transporters make brisk business as people move from one part of the country to the other.
However, 2020 seems to be different unarguably due to events, which preceded the season, including the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus disease, #endSARS protest and economic recession.
Consequently, the zeal for massive home-coming has been obviously affected as revealed at different motor parks visited.
Despite low turnout of passengers, some commercial mass transits within Awka reviewed their fares upward.
For instance, traveling from Awka to Onitsha which was #300 before is now #400 while Awka to Enugu increased from #1,000 to #2,000 by Sienna.
Awka to Ebonyi State that was formerly #2,000 is now between #3,000 & #4,000, while Awka to Abuja is #9,500.
Awka to Ekwulobia, Oko and Umunze all added between #100 and #200 to the previous fares.
One of the transport operators, Mr. Ikechukwu Oke, claimed that the slight increase was due to the recent increase in pump price of petrol from #145 to #170 per litre.
“Before, we use to buy fuel at one hundred and forty five naira but now is one hundred and seventy naira; we use to spend about two thousand naira fuel to go to Onitsha, It its now three thousand five hundred, so we have to increase our fares to meet up,” he stated.
Two commuters, Mr. Uche Okolo and Kingsley Okoli expressed regret with the manner people took advantage of festive periods to reap off their fellow citizens and called on government to look into the trend.
“This is really a sad situation, why must they increase the fares at this time? Its always worst in the South East zone, the Federal Government must do something about it, let there be regulation on transport fares, especially during this festive period,” the commuters cried out.
Also a resident of Awka, Comrade Obi Ochije, while reacting to the sudden increase in fares, wondered why prices of goods and services would always go up whenever the Christian faithful celebrate and called on government to intervene in the interest of the ordinary citizens.
“How can Christians every year be increasing cost of everything, including fares to take their fellow members home for celebration?
Tell me, a family of six that leaves Lagos with transportation fare of over one hundred thousand naira, how much will they use for feeding and other things?” Comrade Ochije queried.
Meanwhile, some mass transit operators told Radio Nigeria that they were still monitoring the situation and would only increase their fares if more passengers trouped out later in the week.