The National Assembly (NASS) has urged the Ministry of Transportation to evolve strategies to check arbitrary hikes in transportation fares during the festive period.
Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, disclosed this in a statement issued by Mr Eric Orjiekwe, the Director Press and Public Relations of the ministry on Friday.
Saraki made the remark during a meeting with stakeholders in the road transport sector in Abuja.
She said the meeting was at the instance of the House of Representatives, following deliberations on the arbitrary increase in transport fares during festive periods, particularly for land transport.
Saraki, who was represented by the Director, Road Transport and Mass Transit Administration of the ministry, Mary Ejembi, said an in-depth look at reasons for fare hikes which cause the citizens pain and affect the economy adversely was the thrust of the meeting. Ejembi said the lawmakers were concerned that well-meaning Nigerians were already viewing the situation as a gross exhibition of greed and a monumental corruption on the part of transporters who capitalize on high commuter traffic to exploit the people.
She said: “The stakeholders, after due deliberations, called on the federal government to prioritize road construction and maintenance to reduce damage to vehicles.
“They called on the government to reduce park duties while also enacting traffic laws backed up with technology.
“They also advised that the activities of unions be monitored and regulated to reduce the hardship on passengers.
“They equally suggested that road transport unions should be compelled to organize periodic training for drivers to curb incessant road mishaps.”
Earlier, the National President, Driving School Association of Nigeria (DSAN), Mr Jide Owatunmise, in his remarks disclosed that “recovery factor” was one of the elements responsible for the hike in fares during festive periods.
Owatunmise said this was because road operators see festive periods as an opportunity to recover lost grounds during off-festive seasons.
The Deputy National Secretary-General, Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Mr Henry Ugwu, said double taxation from bodies and establishments like the state governments and local councils as well as vigilantes were among causative forces driving up the fares.
Those present at the interface were the Deputy Director, RT/MT, FMT, Ojo Idihaloise; the General Secretary, National Union of Road Transport Workers, Mr Anthony Asogwa; and President, Almgamated Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners Repairs and Riders Association of Nigeria.
Others were the Managing Director, Road Accident Prevention Network Centre, Mr Ache Ogu; representative from the Nigerian Police Force, Olarewaju Stephen; President, Painted Abuja Taxi, Shehu Shugaba- Yar’Adua; and President, Female Drivers Association of Nigeria, Eunice Odeghe..