Following the lifting of ban on interstate travels by the Federal Government, some drivers in Jos metropolis have hiked transport fares, saying they adopted the measure to break even.
Newsmen who visited some of the transport parks in Jos on Thursday reports that transport unions at the state-owned motor park, Plateau Riders, said just as they had complied with the directives of physical distancing that came with the lifting of the ban, they had to increase the fares in order to stay afloat.
A driver who shuttles between Jos and Abuja,Mr Moses Yakubu, explained that he had resorted to conveying only five passengers in his Sharon bus, with a sitting arrangement of two passengers behind, two in the middle and one in front, as against the initial sitting arrangement of seven passengers.
Yakubu said he took the measure to enable him to observe the physical distancing order as recommended by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
He said he was now charging N2,500 per passenger per trip to Abuja as against N1,800 before the COVID-9 pandemic, “so that I do not run at a loss”.
Another driver, Mr Sadiu Baba, who conveys passengers to Minna from Jos, said before the pandemic, drivers who owned salon cars usually conveyed five passengers, but that they were now carrying only four passengers.
Similarly, a driver who loads at a motor park along Yakubu Gowon Way, Mr Longinus Nwoagogu, said he was now charging N2000 per passenger per trip to Abuja from Jos, as against N1,600 before the advent of the pandemic.
According to Nwoagogo, salon vehicles at the park were now carrying three passengers at the back and one in front as against four behind, in the past.
He said destinations that used to cost passengers N2000 to reach now cost them N2,700.
He appealed to the government to roll out palliatives that would alleviate the plight of the drivers and passengers.
A passenger, Tina Madaki, who spoke to NAN, lamented the hike in the fares, saying it would worsen the hardships on people caused by the pandemic.
Another, Francis Oche, however, commended the drivers for complying with the social distancing, saying that he was more concerned with his health than the hike in transportation fares.
News agency observed that most of the parks visited were complying with the safety protocols against the virus such as ensuring that all persons going into the arena wore face masks, washed their hands and sanitised them before they were allowed access to them.(NAN)