Fuel price hike: Commercial motorists lament low patronage in Onitsha

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Some commercial bus drivers operating within Onitsha metropolis have lamented low patronage in their daily activities as a result of the current economic hardship in the country, occasioned by the current fuel pump price hike.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday reports that most filing stations visited were dispensing the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popular called petrol, for between N650 and N660.

NAN also observed that passengers preferred to negotiate for prices they can afford before boarding.

Speaking to NAN in separate interviews, some drivers lamented that the issues of low patronage is getting worse by the day since the announcement of the removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government.

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A mini-bus commercial driver, Mr Michael Ogbonna, said that those in the transportation business are the worst hit with the negative impact of the removal of fuel subsidy.

According to him, “transporters are really suffering, most of the gains we make end up going into repairs of our vehicles and buying of fuel.

“We struggle to pay our bills, including all sorts of revenues to government agents, from what we make daily.

“If the current fuel pump price goes up again, some of us will close our businesses and probably go into some other businesses or consider farming,” he said.

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A bus driver, Emmanuel Ikem, decried that they drive around empty looking for passengers.

“We understand that times are hard, we are not blaming our passengers trying to renegotiate prices, we’re all affected.”

Another driver, Ignatius Ikechukwu, attributed the low patronage they record on too many vehicles.

“Some persons don’t even come out again, they do whatever business they have within their areas, just to save them from paying new transport fares, while some others trek,” he said.

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They appealed to government to create an enabling environment for business to thrive and also reduce the rate of taxes levied on citizens.

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