By Temitope Adesomo
The recent hike in fuel price has become a depressing situation to the wellbeing of Nigerian citizens. Residents, workers and business owners and their staff in Redemption City are not exempted in the sudden astronomical increase in the price of fuel in the country.
This has resulted many commuters trekking long distances instead of boarding shuttle buses or tricycles to their different destinations within the Redemption city. It has also affected the livelihood and income of the drivers.
In an interview with a bus driver, Mr. Akinseye recounted that he is unable to adequately cater for his household anymore.
“Now it’s affecting me to the extent that I don’t have anything to take home because after we have gone for two or three trips in a day, we use the whole money to buy fuel again, so there is nothing we can take home”
Falana Oluwaseun, a tricyclists corroborated Akinseye’s experience. He expressed displeasure to the hike in price of fuel, saying it has affected his household negatively.
“l used to travel to visit my family every weekend, but now, I have been here over a month that I haven’t been able to travel due to my inability to meet up with my target of my daily delivery, repairs of my ‘Keke’(tricycle) and so many things”
Beyond the negative effect the hike in fuel has brought to the transport operators, the commuters are also bearing heavy brunt of the fuel subsidy removal as fare on Redemption Camp has gone up more than double. The distance which used to be N100 before fuel price increase has now jumped up to N200 and N300 in peak period, our finding revealed.
Some of the operators even argued that the new fares are not adequate to cover loses they now incur. They expressed dissatisfaction with 200 naira fare, insisting that it is not profitable.
According to Mr. Olaniyan Oloruntoba, another bus driver, N617 per litre fuel price is not accommodating at all.
“Looking at 617 naira per liter, I am meant to charge N300 per trip to make money. But since the Camp transport management has not approved that, we have to carry for N200 per trip. We, however, call on the mission to come to our aid, particularly in the area of our remittance, to see what they can do to bring it down so it won’t be difficult to manage our vehicles and manage ourselves.
“It’s painful that having driven a van throughout the day we are still unable to put food on our family table. Your wife and family know you’ve gone to work, you can’t come back home and tell them story, that there is no money. If you go to the market, prices of food items have increased.”
To Mr. Godwin the unpleasant situation has greatly affected their peak period (when people are going for or coming from work).
“During the peak period, there is a way the queue moves faster because the people are going to work or returning home, but now our peak period is more or less like the off peak period because people are now trekking to their place of work. With this, few people board the vehicles. In recent times, the off peak period has completely become break time for the drivers, that they can sleep for as long as they want”.
Asked to give further insight into the aftermath of the recent increase in fuel price, Godwin said.
“Some people who used to take a drop to their destination are no more doing that; you can imagine bank staff who close from office in the evening trekking, whereas they are meant to patronize us, instead they trek from their office to the gate.”
According to Falana, before now, the massive turn out of commuters during monthly Holy Ghost Services or special programmes had been a blessing to them in term of high income but that is no more.
To Olaniyi, those times are now history. “With the past two Holy Ghost Services, it has been a different ball game entirely. It is itching everywhere. During the Holy Ghost Service, we can make the money we make for remittances like twice, but during the last (July) Holy Ghost Service, one had to pray to be able to pay for his remittance”
The drivers appealed to ‘Keke’ owners to show understanding with them in term of daily delivery by bringing it down.
Godwin however expressed their ordeal with camp transport management over fixing fare to N150 per trip.
“In fact some of our vehicles were impounded for days, so we had to revert to N150 and with this we cannot meet up. Now, see the queue right here, I’ve been here for over 45minutes. How long will I keep up with 5000 naira daily delivery?”
Giving further insight into this matter, the drivers pleaded for God’s intervention in Nigeria energy sector and made an appeal to the Mission for implementation of N200 as regulated fare within Redemption City so their vehicles will not be impounded over fare as they also pleaded with the Keke Owners to reduce daily delivery from N5000 to N3000.
Olaniyan hinted that worshippers who before go to the new auditorium for programmes now do that at the old auditorium due to their inability to afford the required fare.
‘So instead of boarding a vehicle to old auditorium, worshippers trek in mass to the old arena. They were singing, they go in different groups. At the previous Holy Ghost Service, we thought maybe because they just increased the fuel price and believed things are going to get better, but same thing repeated itself in July Holy Ghost Service. People stayed at old arena, those who went to new arena went with their cars, while some the mission buses took them for free. People lined up at prayer foyer for free buses when they couldn’t get they joined the program at the old arena.”
Responding, the head of Shuttle Bus service Task Force, Pastor Samson Ajibola who is also a supervisor of the drivers, said the report of the drivers’ requests has been sent to the chairman, Pastor Bolarinwa for attention and decision.
Ajibola said that it has not been easy to manage the bus drivers and tricyclists even before the recent increase in fuel price, it is only by wisdom and the help of God that they have been checked.
He said the regulated fare per trip by Mission to the drivers is N150 and not N200 the drivers implemented on their own.
He explained that efforts have been made to ensure the regulated price of N150 approved by the Mission is adhered to by all drivers and tricyclists. Appropriate sanctions have been meted out to those who are disobeying among them.
“I went to various parks to tell them about the approved fare, they said they will comply, Oga there’s no problem. But the moment I left the place, I discovered that they go back to the same thing. So during the Holy Ghost Service, it was indeed a battle that we arrested some of them and kept their Keke for one week without work. It was really challenging that the owners of the Keke had to come to beg, some of them wrote undertaking. Last week Thursday I apprehended four Keke again, which we locked up for 1 week, some of them began to tremble and then complied,” Ajibola narrated.
One of the passengers, Mr. Nathaniel, a musician by profession, expressed the unpleasant effect of the fuel hike on his household and business. He said it has not been easy transporting himself to his office. He appealed to federal government to take an urgent practical steps to ameliorate the suffering of her citizens.
To Ms Melody, a student, milliner and Christian movie actress, the effect of increase in fuel price on her movement to school and market to purchase hat materials has become a nightmare. She said she was left speechless as how the fuel price has affected the price of hat materials in the market.
Melody said the fuel price hike has changed everything with its sudden occurrence. Although she supported the government for the fuel subsidy removal decision but believed the government should have set measures for better livelihood before the implementation.
Another passenger, Mr Felix Chukwu was as pained as every other passengers on the fuel price hike. He explained that the increased fuel price has caused a significant decline on number of people that embark on trips. More also some persons have parked their cars at home due to lack of funds for fueling. He made an appeal to the government to provide a strategy to sort out this situation.
For Mrs Tobi Chukwu, her business and household have suffered greatly over the fuel price hike. She said the increase has affected everything in doing her business.
“All these goods we’re selling, the higher the price, the lower the demand and because of this fuel subsidy, the price of goods we bought before the hike in fuel price is now double, no customers, no gain”.
She expressed her unhappiness towards the daily increase in transportation fare to her different locations. She however pleaded with the government to attend to the agonizing situation.