Nigerian students of higher institutions have lamented an astronomical increase in campus transportation fares.
This is as the management of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, has issued a directive streamlining acceptable minimal increases in transportation fares while urging other vendors to maintain old prices until the end of June.
The new development followed Wednesday’s announcement of the increase in pump prices of petroleum products by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
NNPCL, which raised the petroleum pump price from N185 to between N488 and N557, made the announcement following the declaration by President Bola Tinubu that the fuel subsidy regime was over.
Mr Tinubu, in his inauguration speech on Monday in Abuja, shortly after he was sworn as Nigeria’s 16th President, hinted that the fuel subsidy policy was no longer sustainable. This is a stance he had also maintained in his campaign as a candidate during the election.
Mr Tinubu said fuel subsidy was not provided for in the 2023 budget beyond June and that his government will not include it in the budget but will instead pump the funds to invest in public infrastructure, education, health care and job creation.
“Subsidy (on petrol) can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of drying resources,” he said, adding: “We commend the decision of the outgoing administration in phasing out the petrol subsidy regime which has increasingly favoured the rich more than the poor”.
But the labour union has kicked against the removal of subsidy, describing it as placing the cart before the horse.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has threatened to down tool if the new fuel pump prices are not reverted to the old ones.
Increase in transport fares
In response to the pump price hike, commercial transport operators across the country also jerked up transportation fares, and in some cases by more than 100 per cent, forcing Nigerians to trek long distances.
Expectedly, Nigerian tertiary institution campuses are not exempted from the new transport fare regime as commercial transport operators across the campuses nationwide have also responded to the further development.
From the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, to Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, (UNN), The Polytechnic Ibadan, Oyo State, among others, students are lamenting the consequences of the
Usmanu Danfodiyo University
At UDUS, for instance, motorcycle fares from hostels to the academic areas and other areas within the school premises have increased from N100 to N200, students told our reporter.
A 100-level student of Biology, Jimoh Aisha, said most of her lecture venues are far from the hostel, saying it was mandatory for her to use commercial motorcycles “almost every day,
With the new hike in prices, however, Ms Jimoh fears she might have to resort to walking half the distance.
“Before the removal of fuel subsidy, the price of taking a bike to the New Veterinary building ranged between N100 and N150, but now, it has increased drastically to N200,” she said.
Meanwhile, other students who stay off campus have found themselves in worse situations, they said.
Aliyu Umar, a 400-level student of Education and Islamic Studies, said he has resorted to searching for help from private drivers to get to school. He, however, said he was only lucky some time.
“Now, I have to trek from Mabera to the government house roundabout, where I can get a free ride to the school bus stop. I only do this to minimise my cost of transportation because the motorcycle riders are calling exorbitant prices due to the inflation in the price of petrol,” Mr Umar said, even as he urged the Nigerian government to reconsider the position on fuel subsidy removal.
At the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, this newspaper gathered that the bus shuttle from the Gubi permanent site campus to the Yelwa campus has increased from N250 to N400.
Also, the intra-campus motorcycle that charges N50 naira from hostels to classes has also seen a 100 per cent increase from N50 to N100, a 300-level student of Accounting, Aisha Yusuf, told our reporter.
She said: “On Thursday, I was late for class, so I decided to take a bike. Because I know that the price has already increased, I asked how much before I even sat. He (the bike man) said N100, and I bargained for N70, but he refused. Because I didn’t have a choice, I took it.”
Two other students, Chen Monica, a 300 Level Accounting Student, and Hafsah Adebayo of the Business Management Department said they have resorted to trekking any distance on their campus due to the hike.
“Before, I do spend N500 to and fro, between the two campuses,” Ms Chen said, adding, “But now, I spend N800 between the two campuses. I have resorted to trekking within the campus because I don’t have enough money to continue to take bikes.”
Beyond an increased transport fare, a Business Management student, Balkis Sodiq, said cooking had become more expensive than she ever thought.
“Imagine spending N450 to grind beans, including transport,” she said, adding that she has resorted to walking “because the transport fare is much and there are other expenses.”
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
Although Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, is on holiday, A 300-Level student of Botany, Abdulmalik Yahaya, said the fare on the campus had increased in some cases by up to 100 per cent.
For instance, the intra-campus shuttle in a tricycle has increased from N50 to N100, he said.
“I took a tricycle today (Saturday), from outside the campus to the campus. Initially, the price should be N50, but I paid N100,” he said.
Transport from Zango, a popular student community in Zaria, to the school gate has also increased from N50 to N100.
The student also said the fare to a popular student destination called Flyover has also increased from N100 to N150.
To avoid arbitrary increases in charges, the UNILAG management specified the amount to be charged by intra-campus transportation shuttles and those plying between the campus and its neighbouring communities of Yaba and Akoka.
A statement shared with this newspaper by the institution’s Head of Public Relations Unit- Adejoke Alaga-Ibraheem, approved N70 fare for intra-campus shuttles from old N50 fare and N150 instead of N100 charged by motorists plying campus-Yaba and other routes.
The university said after extensive deliberations; parties reached the agreement that “food vendors are to maintain the prices of edibles as obtained before the new fuel price regime; campus cab drivers are to adjust fares to N70 from the initial N50, and campus shuttle drivers are to adjust fares to N150 from N100.”
The statement added: “These developments are to be in place till the end of June, 2023, when the situation will be reviewed again, and adjustments made if necessary.
“Management implores all members of the university community and other stakeholders to remain calm and abide by the above decisions.”
Meanwhile, some students who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES have said fixing the N70 fare for campus cabs has really not helped to stop “extortion by the drivers.”
“Even when they have lower currency denominations to pay as change when they are handed N100 for the fare, they will claim they don’t have so that they can go with the whole N100,” said Yomi Okanlawon, a 300-level Law student of the university.
NLC said it is set to commence nationwide protest against the subsidy removal on Wednesday, 7th June.
The union has written its affiliates, notifying them of the industrial action to demand the reversal of the pump price of petrol to N185.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has also said it would join the NLC in the strike starting from Wednesday.
The NUJ said an emergency central working committee meeting of the union was convened online to discuss issues surrounding the decision by the Nigerian government to remove fuel subsidies and the position taken by the Nigeria Labour Congress.
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.
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