Travellers across the southeastern states, who are going for the yuletide at various places, are lamenting the high cost of transportation occasioned by the festive period and increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol.
As of Friday, petrol was selling between N260 to N370 per litre in some parts of Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi and Owerri and other parts of the region.
While many filing stations were not dispensing the product, those that were selling had long queues, especially the ones selling at cheaper rates.
Our correspondent who went round Onitsha, Awka, Nnewi, Owerri, observed that as a result of this, the cost of transportation has sharply increased across board up to about 300 per cent.
This is in response to the fuel hike and the festive period, which always generates large turnout of commuters at motor parks.
Some motorists expressed concern that the price of petrol and transportation fare have continued to rise even before and during the yuletide without anybody coming to their rescue.
For example, at the Aba Park, Onitsha, on Friday, a trip from Onitsha to Owerri, which used to be N1,000 before now, went as high as N2,500, Onitsha to Aba, which used to be around N1,500 was between N2,500 to N3,000. Onitsha to Awka, which used to be N500 went as high as N1,500.
It was also observed that the fares for intra-city transportation were also increased as high as over 200 per cent for movement within the metropolis.
Shuttle buses and tricycle operators going from Upper Iweka to the Main Market, Upper Iweka to Holy Trinity, all in Onitsha, as well as other environs, including Awka, were seen charging between N300 to N400, these movements were formerly N100 before this period.
As a result, large number of commuters were seen at the motor parks and across various bus stops. While some, who did not envisage the huge increase, were left stranded.
Mrs Grace Egbeh who is a civil servant based in Anambra, and came to the Onitsha park with her children to board a bus travelling to her hometown in Owerri, lamented that the increase in transport fare had put an additional burden on her finances, adding that she never expected that the increase would be as high as that.
“Although, I had expected an increase in the fares which is a ritual for transporters during festivity period, but I never expected to meet about 300 per cent increase which I am seeing now. This is very abnormal. It has destabilised my finances,” Egbeh added.
In a reaction, a driver with the Imo State Transport Corporation at the Onitsha park, who gave his name as Mr Benard Okeke, blamed the price increase on the rising cost of petrol and deplorable condition of roads in the South-East.
Okeke, who is in charge of Anambra, Imo and Enugu states, said transporters now buy petrol above N300 per litre, which, according to him, has taking it’s tolls on their daily returns.
“It is not our problem; the price we are charging in transportation fare is reflective of the price of fuel, deplorable road conditions and the rush for the Yuletide.
“The increase and unstable prices in petrol is even affecting our operations because our profits have dropped. We are constrained to increase the fares. So, we are urging members of the public to appreciate the role of transporters, who are making efforts to provide the services,” Okeke added.