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Commuters decry new BRT fares as operator count losses

Commuters in Lagos yesterday expressed dissatisfaction over the hike in fares by the Primero Transport Services Limited, operator of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the state.

Recall that the BRT operator on earlier announced an upward review of transport fares across all routes with effect from yesterday to meet up with current challenges.

The firm resumed operation yesterday with a new fare regime, saying it had received the government’s nod for an upward review.

Indeed, the operator affirmed that the need to increase was necessary as the company is running at loss as its value chain suppliers refuses to supply due to debts.

The Managing Director of the firm, Mr Fola Tinubu, told The Guardian that a trip that cost commuters N200 had been increased to N300, and that of N300 had risen to N500.

Tinubu said that the firm understood the plight of the people and the economic situation, but that the step became imperative to keep serving the commuters diligently and to provide a world-class service for them.

According to him, cost of operating the buses had increased so much that the firm is finding it difficult to survive and sustain operations, and had been piling up losses.

As opposed to the transport guidelines that mandated the operator to commute only 20 passengers per trip instead of 70, Tinubu said the company has received approval to carry 42 passengers going forward.

This he said would ease one of the challenges the company is encountering.

“For the four days that we were off the road Danfo buses were charging commuters N500 from Ikorodu to Mile 12, they were charging N1500 from Ikorodu to CMS. What we are doing is in the best interest of everybody in a long-term. We are charging less than danfo and every other commercial buses presently.

Some commuters plying Ikorodu-CMS axis, however, said that the increase in fares at such a trying time for the masses would further increase hardship and financial burdens.

“Why are they doing this to the masses at a time when government is supposed to be doing things that will make people survive this difficult time?

“Even if the hike is truly necessary, it should not be now. More so, there is no increase in pump price. This action is ill-timed.

“The government is encouraging yellow buses to push up their fares, then life will be more difficult. It should not be now. This will bring hardship, “Mr Gift Wejem, a furniture maker, said.

Mrs Ade Adesiyan, a media expert, said that the best the government could have done at such a time was to provide bailout funds for the BRT operators if they were finding it difficult to operate.

Adesiyan, who said that though some people would not be affected by the increase in fares, government authorities should have considered the poor whose burden would be heavier.

“This is not a good time, but for some of us, we are interested in smart, effective and efficient services. We will be glad to witness reformed services. It will be disappointing if the services remain the same.

“The time we lose at bus stations waiting for buses is too much. We will be happy if this is addressed now that the fares have been increased.”

A welder, Mr Titus Oyedeji, who was Lekki-bound, from Ikorodu, said the hike portrayed insensitivity on the part of government.

Oyedeji asked: “How can government-controlled buses be thinking of profit making at a time when the poor masses are fighting hard to survive? I am not happy at all.”

According to him, the hike will affect so many people who, because of their pockets, always wait for long on queues to use the BRT buses.

The BRT operator had earlier withdrawn its services since Monday over losses occasioned by COVID-19 new transport guidelines that mandated it to commute only 20 passengers per trip instead of 70.

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