By Adelola Amihere
As train services resumed on the Abuja-Kaduna route on Wednesday, passengers have expressed concerns over the increase in the price of fares which they described as expensive for the average Nigerian.
This is just as they argued that the development may force passengers to resort to road transportation which have become unsafe due security challenges.
At a visit in company of the Minister of Transportation, Hon Chibuike Amaechi to the Idu station in Abuja to monitor passenger compliance with the safety protocols, one of the passengers, Meiro Hassan lamented that the increase in fares was not done in the interest of Nigerians.
According to her, “It is not everybody that can afford it. With the way things are right now together with COVID-19 pandemic, the economy is down. They should have brought the fares lower so that many people will be able to patronize it.
“You can see the crowd now, if it were before the whole place is full and now we are not even up to one coach so they need to look into it and find solution in the interest of everybody”.
Another passenger Zeenat Ahmed described the increase in fare price as unfair.
“I feel it’s very unfair for them to increase the fares because everyone is struggling now with the pandemic and the economy is really bad. So instead of putting everything on the passengers both party should lose 50-50, they shouldn’t have put the price at N3000. Initially I was paying 2500 for business class coach but now it’s N6000 for first class.
“The roads are very bad so passengers will rather pay the money to go but some people can’t pay now, if you are traveling with kids and family it’s going to be expensive tell me how many people are working now like teachers are not working only drivers, few offices and doctors and nurses.
“So how do they get to their destinations if they want to visit their families? they shouldn’t have increased the fares they should have waited for Corona Virus to go and manage such that they should lose because everybody is losing so they can make it 50-50 they should have made it 2000 instead of 3000 doubling the fares is not fair”, she stated
Aminu Aliyu on his part asked that the price be reverted to the old price but opined that it was much more safer to travel by train
He said: “To be honest, we will appreciate if government can take it back to the former price but in the absence of nothing we will have to take what we see but we welcome back the train because we miss it. It’s much safer to go by train than to be on the road. The road is bad, it’s still work in progress and the fear of kidnappers harmed robbery and the rest. For me if I have the money I would rather pay”.
While giving reasons for the price increase, the Minster who expressed satisfaction with the level of passenger compliance, disclosed that they had approached government on subsidizing the fare but government was unable to due to lack of funds.
He explained that with the new arrangement, the Corporation was not making any profit but simply recouping the running cost.
“If in a coach of 88 passengers you now have about 56 passengers, that means you are losing money, if we are making 120 million before and we are making less than 60 million and running cost is about 90 to 100 million there are two things that can be done – either we increase the fares or government subsidize and we gave government the opportunity but there is no money so government can’t subsidize”, he stated.