As Igbos defy security concerns and stringent economic conditions to return home for the holiday season, interstate park operators have continued to raise bus fares to South-East states, with further increase expected as the year comes to a close.
Checks by Peoples Gazette with God is Good Motors (GIGM) on Thursday indicated that bus tickets to South-East and South-South states cost between N25,000 and N29,300.
The Gazette observed that GIG bus fare from Iyana Ipaja, Lagos, to Enugu cost N28,800, Anambra cost N26,400, and Onitsha and Owerri cost N27,800, respectively.
In addition, the fares to Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, and Benin in Edo State were N29,300 and N25,000, respectively with a trip to Aba in Abia State costing N26,900.
The fare at GUO Transport was N26,250 from Iyana Ipaja, Lagos, to Port Harcourt in Rivers State, while N25,750 was charged for Enugu and Ebonyi States.
The prices were lower at Abia line motors and Peace Mass Transit in Yaba, where a trip to Nsukka in Enugu State cost N19,650, but a trip to Aba, via Abia line, cost N20,000.
Speaking with The Gazette the park manager at Abia Line Motors, who simply identified himself as Okechukwu, tied the hike in bus fare to fuel scarcity, hike in fuel prices, the Christmas rush and the heightened insecurity in the South-East region.
He detailed that the hike in bus fare will continue into the new year as Igbos will continue to travel until the last days of the year.
“The current bus fare is as a result of both the economic and security reality of the country and the South-East region in particular. It is only economically right for transport services to take advantage of the Christmas rush to make money,” he said.
Arguing that interstate transport services were not making excessive profit from the season, Mr Okechukwu cited the hike in the pump price of fuel and the current security worries in the region as part of the reason for the increase in the fare price.
“The bus fare is not exactly very expensive, fuel is now selling at between N200 and N250, so if we are increasing fare price also, we still have to settle some people on the road, it makes a whole lot of sense,” he added.
Until recently, the cost of bus transportation to the South-East and South-South from Lagos ranged between N10,000 and N18,000. However, in recent months, an increase in the price of fuel has led to a corresponding increase in the cost of bus fares.
It is customary for the Igbos to celebrate Christmas and new year in their hometowns. Not minding the rising insecurity in the region and the hike in bus fares due to increase in fuel price, the Southeasterners continue to travel home despite all odds.