Real problems faced by ordinary Nigerians

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Real problems faced by ordinary Nigerians

Postby fw12 » Tue May 12, 2009 5:43 pm

New law, new pains on Lagos' roads
By Bertram Nwannekanma

DRIVING to work on Monday, Henry Ayawanle, a customs agent, noticed the hundreds of people waiting at Cele Bus Stop on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Lagos.

Glancing at his watch, he saw it was 10.00a.m., the time by which Lagosians would ordinarily have long settled at their places of work or shop.

A minute later, he drove past Ijesha Bus Stop and then Sanya and further down, Mile Two, where he still saw commuters waiting that late in the morning.

The same scene of hundreds of commuters waiting at bus stops in the Lagos metropolis till late in the morning has become common since the past two weeks.

The commercial operators had suddenly increased their fare, with erroneous burden of commuters.

The increase, which was only synonymous with petroleum hike or strike period, some of the operators blamed on the recent guidelines on transportation by the Lagos State government.

Though the government had acted in good faith by coming up with the guideline, the consequences may not have been anticipated.

Under the guidelines advertised in sections of the media, commercial buses like the danfo and others in its class like LT 35 are to carry a maximum of four passengers on a row instead of the previous five from next year, while the commercial motorcyclists also called okada would now carry a passenger each.

Besides, they were also restricted to operate not later than 10 pm on all Lagos routes and between 6.00am to 8.00p.m. on Victoria Island and Ikoyi.

The thinking of government, The Guardian reliably gathered was for the physical safety of passengers and the overall security of Lagosians going by the upsurge of armed robberies involving motorcycle riders in Lagos in the recent times.

There was also government's desire to check avoidable accidents caused by impatient commercial motorcycle riders, which have led to loss of lives and limbs.

While Lagosians were still savoring the directive, which, a banker, Jonathan Umeh, said had reduced accidents on the roads, the commercial motorists and cyclists saw it as an opportunity to increase fares.

On virtually all routes, fares have jumped 100 per cent for motorcyclists and 50 percent for commercial buses.

" Many Lagosians have been finding it difficult to cope with the rise in transport fares.

People say it is tough having to pay more than a double to reach their homes," Chudi Anoli, a dealer in industrial chemicals, told The Guardian on Monday.

A junior worker in the Lagos public service, who lives in Abesan told The Guardian she now spent almost N500.00 to go to work at the secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja.

It cost her between N150 and N200 to get to Ikeja from Abesan from the former N80 or N100 at peak time.

Lamenting the cost of transportation in the city since the policy was unfolded, Mr. Olajide Alade, who works in a publishing house located along the Oshodi/ Apapa expressway said the directive may have begun to hurt those it was meant to help.

"The perennial traffic jam on Isolo-Ejigbo-Ikotun road always force me to hire a motorcyclist when I close at 9.00p.m. at Iyana- Isolo underbridge at N250 to Ikotun.

But since the guideline was released, I now pay N500 to Ikotun. Some times, I pay as much as N600. I cannot sustain that level of expenditure."

A nursing mother Ireti Balogun, who goes to work at Oshodi from Egbeda, told The Guardian that" getting home has become a nightmare every day.

" Because of the traffic jam along Lagos- Abeokuta Expressway, I used to hire a motorcyclist to Egbeda at N200 so as to get home in time to look after my baby. Then, the cyclist would carry two of us.

But because of the restriction to one passenger, they now charge N500. Where can I get that money? I cannot ask my husband to give me transport fare.

" My purpose of working is to help in the upkeep of our home.

But now and I am considering quitting the job next year. If I pay N500 a day, that would be almost N12, 000 a month. What am I being paid as monthly salary. I would rather stop, " she said.

The woman said government should have considered the impact before taking such a decision, especially when there were not enough vehicles for public transportation in the Lagos metropolis.

To her, the directive was not only ill-timed, as the year was about to end but also "suggests that government policy was to favour a few who probably do not board commercial transport. I even hear they want to ban commercial motorcyclists. If they do, we will all regret it.

"Can they estimate the number of people, men, women and children who depend on the money the okada rider makes each day?"

On the reason for the increase, a commercial motorcyclist, Emeka Sunday, who plies the Ikotun route from Toyota Bus Stop, said passengers have to bear the consequences of the directive by the government.

" Most of us ride the motorcycles on hire purchase and must make payments of between N3, 000 to N4, 000 daily. "If I carry a passenger at N200 or even N300, I will not be able to meet the target."

He also said motorcyclists couldn't reduce the new fares because of the numerous levies they are made to pay along the roads in the metropolis.

" We pay for this permit, this chairman and that chairman, the baale , the Oba and the government is not giving us any protection.

The government should fix the roads and dislodge the touts. They can enforce a specific speed limit rather than the present one passenger-policy, which is not in anyone's favour " he added.

Another motorcyclist, Danny Onyeka, said they increased fares " in preparation to buy two head helmets we must carry beginning next year.

We cannot afford to cough out N6, 000 just like that as directed by government. so we are saving for the helmets."

While motorcyclists blame government for refusing to stop the activities of touts, their commercial commuter-bus counterparts also gave their reason for the hike on certain fees government was demanding from them.

A commercial motorist, who plies, Iyana- Ipaja- Ikotun axis, Muri Akin said the hike was to help them get enough money to meet the demands of government on taxation next year.

" We have been told we would not operate next year without the Ministry of Transportation (MOT) certification and that we would be carrying only four passengers.

They are also telling us we will be made to pay N50, 000 fine for non-compliance.

" We want to get the money to pay for all these, yet we are paying touts the government could not remove from the roads", he added.

Reacting on the development on Monday, the Press and Public Officer of the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Mrs. Bola Ajao said the state government would soon make a pronouncement on the hike in fares in Lagos.

According to her, government will ensure that Lagos residents have a good life.

She said the restriction of the commercial motorcyclists to a certain time and restriction on the number was to safeguard commuters as well as to improve security in the State.

She noted that the increase in the number of armed robbery cases involving motorcyclists prompted the State government to restrict their activities.

She denied knowledge of levy imposed on commercial motorists, stating however that the state government will soon start the rehabilitation of Lagos roads.
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