Low patronage in motor parks as Muslims mark Eid-el-Kabir tomorrow

Low patronage in motor parks as Muslims mark Eid-el-Kabir tomorrow
  • One-way Lagos-Abuja flight hits N286, 000

Ahead of tomorrow’s Eid-el-Kabir celebration, operators of major motor parks across the country have complained of low passenger patronage, Daily Trust Saturday reports.

This is as air fares have skyrocketed ahead of the celebration, with a one way from Lagos to Abuja going for as much as N286, 000.

Our correspondents who visited major motor parks in Kano, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Damaturu and Maiduguri, among others, observed that unlike what used to be the case during previous Sallah celebrations, only a handful of Muslims were seen travelling to celebrate the Eid-el-Kabir.

Those spoken to attributed the low number of people travelling to celebrate the festival on the harsh economic realities and high cost of transportation occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy.

Kano

In Kano, most of the parks visited were virtually deserted with little or no patronage as people are hardly travelling to other states for the Sallah.

The activities going on at the parks were majorly the waybill of goods and commodities coming in and outside the state.

When Daily Trust Saturday visited the famous Naibawa motor park, it was observed that vehicles were just parked waiting for passengers who were only a few. 

 Speaking about the situation, the Branch Secretary, Naibawa Motor Park, Muhammad Umar Wada, said, “What is happening is that not many people are travelling out of Kano now for the Sallah celebration. The ones that we are seeing are those coming into the state.

“Normally, at times like this, we don’t record high patronage of people going out. In fact, the drivers drive empty vehicles to other states and come back with people.”

Kano Line Motor Park is another park known for high volume of passengers and activities having a fleet of vehicles travelling to different states.

It was also observed that many of the vehicles in the park were parked empty, while the few that were open were struggling to get passengers.

The situation was the same with Unguwa Uku Motor Park, also known for numerous travelling activities and always filled with customers coming in and out of the state during festive seasons such as the Sallah.

Speaking about the situation, a driver, Ahmad Sunusi, said, “It is no longer favourable, my brother. We are just trying to stay in business but the issues are much.

“Of course, the fare cannot be compared with last year. The gap is much due to the high inflation and cost of fuel.”

On his part, a traveler, Said Mustapha, said he was travelling only because he was a student and had nobody in Kano to celebrate with.

Rivers

In the same vein, there was low passenger turnout in motor parks in Rivers State.

A visit by our reporter to major parks in Port Harcourt, Eleme and Oyigbo, showed low patronage of passengers especially the northerners, who are expected to travel to their respective states for the Sallah festival.

At the Mile 3, Abali, Rumuokoro and Onne parks, from where many northerners and other Muslim faithful usually embark on their journeys up north, the flow of passengers was at its lowest ebb.

An executive member of Mile One Park Road Transport Workers Union,  Chukwudi Ike, said patronage was not favourable.

“In a festive period like this, there is always huge traffic because of the great number of Muslims that come to board vehicles to their respective states, especially the northern states. But this time around, the reverse is the case. We have not seen many people coming here to board vehicles. I believe it’s because of the present economic situation in the country,” he said.

A resident of Port Harcourt, Muhammad Sani, said the low patronage at the park was as a result of the difficult economic situation in the country. 

 “To go to Katsina and come back to Port Harcourt, I would have to spend more than N150,000. So, I don’t have a choice other than to do it here in Port Harcourt.”

Borno 

Our correspondent who visited the Borno Express terminus in Maiduguri described previous years’ patronage as far better.

Some of the passengers who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday lamented the increase in transport fares compared to last Sallah celebration.

Abdulwasiu Muri lamented that he could not afford to travel with his wife and five children due to the high cost transportation.

“As you can see, I just paid N9,000 from Maiduguri to Jos, which used to be N5,000 before subsidy removal. I planned to travel with my family to Ikirun town in Osun State but after thorough consultation with my wife, she decided that I should go alone due to transport fare.

 “For me to travel with my wife and five children, I will be spending like N200,000 to travel home alone. It is not funny but that is the true situation; things are not getting rather worse.”

Modu Baba Zannah, a driver at Borno Express Park said, “The hike is necessary to cover fuel cost. They can’t expect the same price when a full tank was N11,000 and now it is N53,000.” 

Abuja

 In Abuja, there was low patronage of passengers traveling to the far North of the country to celebrate the Sallah.

A visit to the roadside motor park around Dei-Dei, Zuba, and Madalla towns, on Friday, showed a significant drop in patronage, compared to what was usually recorded during such periods.

The chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) for the Kano route in Zuba motor park, Abdullahi Adamu, said patronage had dropped by about 70 per cent compared to last year’s celebration.

“We usually record a high volume of passengers beginning from about 10 days to the Sallah until a day after the event. During the climax days, we used to record about 50 vehicles that travel to Kano.”

Our reporter observed that  passengers who could not afford to pay for vehicles loading from within the motor park were seen by the roadside waiting for the private vehicles that were charging below the official rate. 

Kwara

However, in Ilọrin, the Kwara State capital, it was observed that there was a slight increase in the number of travelers for the Sallah celebration.

Also, some passengers transported rams from Ilọrin to Lagos because of the price difference.

A passenger, Mutmaina Babajide, said she was traveling to Ibadan with a bus and they were charging N3,500 instead of N3,000 and carrying four passengers instead of three.

Another traveler to Lagos by car, Ibrahim Olalekan, said the price had increased to N10,000 from N9,000. 

Bauchi

In Bauchi, there was low patronage by passengers traveling from within and outside the state.

When our correspondent visited the Bauchi-Gombe-Yola motor park, he saw only a few passengers but many commercial drivers stranded due to the low patronage.

One of the drivers, Yakubu Sani Abubakar, said the low patronage had unsettled many of them and the owners of commercial vehicles.

When contacted, the Deputy State Chairman of the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and branch chairman of Bauchi-Gombe road line, Alhaji Buhari Batara, said the economic hardship had sparked poverty and cut the movement of people and services.

Lagos

In Lagos, Daily Trust Saturday’s findings showed that the patronage level of travellers during the Sallah differed at the different motor parks in the state based on location.

The major parks, which include Iyana-Ipaja, and a few others, witnessed a surge of travellers, most especially those traveling to states not too far away.

At Iyana-Ipaja garage, it was a beehive of activities as inter-state buses were loading passengers in their numbers to the different states.

Adekunle Adeniran, a transporter, said he was surprised that there was a surge of passengers despite the country’s economic crunch, adding that since the commencement of work at dawn, there had not been resting time for officials in the park.

“I was surprised that people could travel despite the country’s economic condition. Since 4am when the first bus loaded till this afternoon, many other buses, close to 40 of them, have loaded and taken off,” he said.

He said the fare from Lagos to Oyo State ranged from N4,500-N5,000, depending on the period of the day.

Airfares skyrocket

Similarly, airfares have skyrocketed further across the country ahead of the Eid-el-Kabir festival on Sunday, checks by Daily Trust Saturday have shown.

Except for passengers who planned early for their trip by booking ahead of time, others are paying through their noses to fly to their destinations.

Already, airfares have hit the ceiling, with airlines blaming the situation on the high cost of operations. The fares increased further during the week as Nigerians commenced a long holiday for the Eid festival, otherwise known as the Muslim festival of sacrifice.

A random check on some flights by our correspondent yesterday indicated that a one-way flight from Lagos to Abuja costs as much as N200,000 on some airlines for a Saturday trip.

A Lagos-Abuja flight on Air Peace cost 234,000 for a one-way trip yesterday, while that of Arik also cost over N200,000.

Also, Lagos-Jos on Arik Air was N237,000 while Lagos-Ilorin seat was sold for N102,900 on Air Peace from about N80,000.

Also, the Lagos-Abuja flight on ValueJet was N186,000 as of yesterday for a Saturday trip while the same flight cost N130,000 on Rano Air.

 The Lagos-Abuja flight also went as high as N286,000 last night on Ibom Air while the Saturday flight was N238,400 as of press time.

 A passenger said he at one time paid more than N300,000 to buy a one-way ticket over the counter.

 “You would think you are paying for a business class but it is the same economy class that is this expensive,” he said.

 Speaking with our correspondent, an aviation analyst, Comrade Olayinka Abioye, said the hike is unacceptable and called on the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to intervene to check the drastic increase in fares.

Even as passengers paid heavily for air tickets, the heavy downpour in Lagos yesterday also resulted in flight disruptions across the country with many unable to depart on schedule.

For instance, Air Peace cancelled and delayed some of its morning flights over the downpour.

  “Due to the heavy downpour of rain in Lagos and Abuja this morning, some flights across our network will be disrupted.

 “While weather is beyond our control and safety remains our utmost priority, we appeal for your understanding as we manage the disruptions as best as we can and get you to your destinations safely,” Air Peace said in a notice posted on its social media page.

Meanwhile, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has assured Nigerians of seamless travel through the airports during the festive season saying it has consistently taken measures to upgrade its security apparatus to ensure the safety of lives and property of the travelling public.

FAAN, therefore, advised all travellers to be at the airport early enough in order not to miss their flights as well as reduce rush.

“International travellers must be at the airport three hours before departure, while local travellers must ensure they arrive about two hours to flight schedule,” FAAN Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Obiageli Orah, said in a statement.

 She also advised the intending passengers not to leave their baggage unattended, adding, “FAAN has expanded the screening area in order to give passengers a better flying experience. 

“Keep an eye on your valuables while passing through screening.

“Ensure that you park your vehicle properly at the car park to avoid it being towed.  Please do not engage the services of touts.

“The MD of FAAN, Mrs Olubunmi Kuku, at a recent event sent out a severe warning to staff as well as all government agencies that operate at our airports that FAAN will ensure that whoever is culpable is punished. Do not give bribes or encourage extortion.”