Lagos commuters reject proposed hike in transport fares

Some commuters in Lagos, Africa's largest city and Nigeria's commercial nerve centre.

Some commuters in the South-Western state of Lagos, Nigeria, have expressed dissatisfaction over the proposed increase of fares by the Primero Transport Services Limited, operator of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the state.

The BRT operator revealed its intention for an upward review of transport fares across all routes in the state to meet up with current realities.

The Managing Director of the firm, Mr Fola Tinubu, told news reporters that the current fares were grossly inadequate if the firm was to provide better services for the people.

According to him, cost of operating the buses have increased so much that the firm is finding it difficult to survive and sustain operations.

In their reactions, commuters however said in separate interviews that it was the height of insensitivity on the part of government to think of profit-making from poor masses.

They criticized the decision to increase fares, as it would affect so many people, who would not mind waiting for long on the queue to use the buses as it was economical for them.

Mrs Bose Ogbonne, an online marketer, said: “It does not make sense at all. People use BRT because it is cheap. We wait for long, queuing up for buses to arrive also.

“So, if there is no significant difference between the BRT and commercial buses’ fare, we will not wait for them again.

“If we are in a hurry, instead of waiting for BRT and even preferring standing, that will not happen again. They (BRT operators) should think well before doing so.”

Ogbonne, who spoke to news correspondents at the Costain BRT bus stop, urged the state government to intervene quickly so as not to increase the hardship of the poor masses resident in Lagos.

Another commuter, who simply identified herself as Mummy Sadiq said that it was not fair to increase electricity tariff, transport fares and others just because workers’ salaries were increased.

“Government should think of alleviating suffering of the people rather than add to their burdens. This is another hardship coming up to people when electricity tariffs is increased and transport fares jump up.

“Why the increase in fares now? Is it because of the minimum wage given to workers? People should not be stressed beyond normal again. There is hardship in the land already,”  she said.

A student, Mr Michael Ajayi said that the government should not allow such proposed increase in BRT fares to scale through in the interest of the masses.

Michael, who also spoke at the Costain BRT bus stop, said: “Why do they want to increase the fares now? This is not good. It will affect us. It will affect our pockets.”

Miss Janet Daniel, a teacher, added that since government had failed to alleviate the poverty, it should not compound the hardship with the fare increase.

A cleric, Mr Olanrewaju Dunmiju said that those in position of authority should also think of the people and their welfare:

“I know this proposed increase if hatched finally, is going to affect a lot of people because BRT is the last hope for so many poor masses.

“Some people cannot afford other commercial bushes, that is why you see them queuing up even in the sun to use BRT.

“I will advise the government to think over this and support the operators if they are finding it difficult to operate with the current fares.”

Amaka E. Nliam