It was a grueling day for commuters in Benin City, Edo State capital on Wednesday as intra-city commercial drivers withdrew their vehicles from various routes over alleged astronomical hike in the daily ticket fee being charged by Edo State Government. Stranded passengers who were apparently caught unawares, had no choice but to trek long distances to get to their destinations.
Some apparently frustrated passengers complained that commercial vehicles with passengers onboard were being intercepted and harassed by aggrieved members of the transport unions in their bid to make the protest effective. Solomon Agbovaire, one of the transporters, explained that the state government had on Tuesday increased the ticket fee from ₦800 per day to ₦2000. This, he said, did not go down well with members of all the transport unions in the state.
A furious Agbovaire said “You will have to trek since government wants to kill us. We are asked to be paying ₦2,000 daily for ticket as against the ₦800 we paid previously. This is unacceptable”.
One of the stranded passengers, who identified herself as Mrs. Ifeoma Iroha, described the situation as “the height of insensitivity on the part of the state government” to increase the fee amidst the prevailing harsh economic situation in the country. Iroha lamented how she was forced to pay a high transport fare despite the fact that she was not dropped at her destination.
She said “I am going to Ring road, but we were stopped at Five Junction, which is about three to four kilometres to the bus stop. We were all forced to disembark from the bus and they forcefully collected the fare from us. This is frustrating because my journey will not end at Ring road. I will still have to proceed further. But as it is now, I don’t know how long I will have to trek”.
On his part, another angry commuter, Mark Ehanire, said increasing the ticket fee by more than 100 per cent was not the best. He said the government should have been mindful that a policy like this would bring untold hardship on the masses.
Ehanire said “For instance, this action will definitely affect my business for today. I am going to Agip side on Sapele Road and this is happening to me. In fact, I don’t know what to say than to appeal to the government to rescind this decision.
As of press time, the state government was yet to react to the transporters’ grievance.