Commuters in Nigeria may have to brace up for difficult times ahead as transport fares could increase by up to 500 per cent in the coming weeks.
This was mooted at the just concluded general meeting of the Association of Private Transport Company Owners of Nigeria (APTCON), where transporters spoke about the gruelling challenges they face as an industry.
At the meeting, the transporters unanimously agreed that increasing fare prices across the country may be their only chance of survival as this critical industry, which over 90 per cent of Nigerians depend on for their daily commute, is struggling to stay above water.
They also lamented that the government was worsening the situation through multiple unlawful taxation and levies among other burdens.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, a member of APTCON under condition of anonymity said the government simply does not care about the masses.
In his words “Passenger transport companies are always being exploited by the government especially at the state and local government levels. In just two months, I have paid close to N10 million in taxes for just three of the eight locations I operate from. How much are we making from this business especially with this new law about social distancing in buses, which requires us to carry maximum of seven passengers in a 14 seater bus and 28 passengers in a 50 seater bus.
“Government is quick to charge and enforce unlawful taxes, but do not give us any support whatsoever. How do we survive?”
In the same vein, the association’s spokesperson, Audu Gaddo stated that the government was making it impossible for transporters to operate profitably.
He lamented that while numerous issues plague the sector such as high exchange rates, high interests on bank loans etc., one of its toughest challenges remains the issue of multiple taxation.
He mentioned that one of their member organisations just received a demand notice of close to N7 million from one local government.
He also noted that these colossally high, unsubstantiated and unlawful charges, which are predominant across the country particularly in states Lagos, Abia, Rivers, Imo, Enugu, Kaduna, Delta and the Abuja Municipal Area Council, affect transporters’ ability to remain in business leaving them with no option than to consider fare price increase, if they are to remain in business.
Audu went further by calling on the government at all levels to put the interest of its citizens first by addressing some of the other issues plaguing the Nigerian transport industry which include bad roads, unwarranted harassment of passengers by law enforcement officers and insecurity, instead of focusing purely on financial gains.
He ended his interview by imploring the government to take strategic steps in ending the shameful exploitation of transporters to avoid making innocent commuters suffer needlessly.
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