Passengers travelling to riverine communities in Rivers State have decried the increase in transport fare occasioned by the recent removal of oil subsidy by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The hike, which some passengers described as inhuman has been condemned, calling on President Goodluck Jonathan to revert back to the oil subsidy.
The passengers who decried the sudden increase in the transport fare to their communities in the riverine areas of the state however said they are to blame the Government for its action that had caused the hike.
Our Correspondent, who was at some of the Jetties in Port Harcourt observed that some passengers were not happy over the development but had to travel at all cost.
Mrs Blessing Amaechi, a nurse with St. Charles Clinic Bonny said she travelled out of Bonny to her home town in Abia for a burial on the 10th December 2011, only to come back now with her two children and be stranded at the Jetty as she had only N1,700 that is for her transport alone.
Mrs Amaechi said she paid N800 the trio were leaving when but now they (Boat drivers) said the children should pay N1,700, and that all efforts to plead with the drivers proved abortive and she could not leave her children at the jetty and travel to Bonny alone as she is to resume duty.
“I need help and I pray God will reward that person that would help us to reach Bonny,” she said, and lamented that the increase is unfair”.
Also, a youth corper serving at a Secondary School at Abalamabie, Emeka Uwa said he just went home for the two weeks holiday and came back from Lagos to observe that the transport fare had increased to N1,700 and he had less than that amount with him, hoping to survive when he gets to the school through the allowances paid which is not even enough but to give their best as national service, describing the situation as quite unfortunate.
He appealed to the Federal Government to see to the plight of the teeming masses and especially corpers, who should be given preferential treatment.
In his statement, the Vice Chairman of Bonny Marine Drivers Association, Mr. Ayiba-Preye Misongo has this to say, “Actually the increase in fare is not our making as we were formerly collecting N1,200 but only added N500.00.
when there was fuel scarcity following the Federal Government’s removal of the oil subsidy.
According to him, “Although the passengers are gambling as the money on them could not take them to their destinations, and some refused to pay on the first day the increase was made but now they are trying to adjust themselves, but some are seeking for help from people to travel because they had less than the transportation charged”.
Mr. Markson Kuromi, traveling from Port Harcourt to Nembe in Bayelsa State by boat said the suffering of the people is pitiable as they now pay N3,050 instead of the normal fare of N2,000, but since there is no alterative, we have to pay and travel for our businesses.
Mr. Kuromi, however supported the removal of the oil subsidy, saying “let us suffer and enjoy later like Ghana. Things will be better if people exercise patience with the plans of the government”.
A private boat owner, ThankGod Job simply said he used 40 litres of fuel to and from Bille at the cost of N6,000 but it is now sold at N10,000, and that he is not aware of how much passengers pay to Bille now.
At Marine Base, Port Harcourt, The Tide gathered that there had been consultations between the Council Chairman, Hon. Tamuno Williams and the executive of Speed Boat Owners on the increase, which they finally agreed to add only N50.00 to the N200 they have been collecting with effect from yesterday while at Abonnema Wharf, Mrs Daba Dokubo, who was traveling to Bakana complained that with the increase in transport fare from N3,000 to N3,600, it is going to affect cost of goods and every aspect of life, and also appealed to the Federal Government to rescind its action as the people at the grassroot would be badly affected. “Let the President consider the poor people because not all can afford this amount,” he further appealed.