By Tordue Salem – Abuja
The House of Representatives has passed a motion to bar transportation workers from raising fares for commuters during the Christmas and New Year period.
The House reached the resolution on Monday, after adopting a Motion on the Urgent Need to put a stop to Arbitrary Increase In Transportation fare during Festive Period, with Specific Reference to Land Transport”, sponsored by Rep. Emeka Chinedu(PDP-Imo).
While presenting the Motion, he noted that “the recent arbitrary hike in Transport Fare across the Country, is becoming a tradition, with the most recent, where the obnoxious increment is painfully hitting the Land Transportation, thereby, compounding the hardship situation across the board, as the Yuletide draws near”.
He noted further,” that the development is becoming a national pandemic, where Commuters are decrying that the arbitrary hike in fares in some cases had reached almost 100 per cent, barely a week to the Christmas and more as the days go by, a situation that is also viewed to be worsening the economic situation in the Country”.
According to him, “the Yuletide is associated with lots of travelling, as the longest holiday season, which triggers a proportionate movement of people from one destination to the other, hence the understanding of the economic implications that snowballs to a marginal increase in fares due to forces of demand on the existing supply chain, that such obnoxiously arbitrary increase, sometimes had nothing to do with the economic indices or the reality on the ground, but a by-product of the greedy discretion of the Park managers who decide the prices depending on turnout of the day which is nothing short of gross insensitivity, occasioning economic sabotage”.
He raised concerns that “the trend is not only becoming too dangerous to ignore, but a total set back on the Country’s recuperating economy, especially when factors like the demons of unusual fuel scarcity that formally triggers hike in fares had been taken care of by the Government through the recent deregulation of the downstream sector of the Oil and Gas industry”.
He also expressed concern “that the unabating increase in fares during the Yuletide is becoming too traditional, thereby questioning the place of Government in such obviously inconsiderate moves, that has brought into focus the worst sides of humanity that do not care about the effect of an arbitrariness that often leaves many of the citizenries in untold hardship with the corresponding hunger or starvation, and in some cases, stranded”, lamenting that “well-meaning Nigerians are already viewing the situation as a gross exhibition of greed and monumental corruption on the part of the transporters who capitalize on the rush and harsh realities, to exploit and rip the people off their hard-earned money that invariably put a question mark on the Country’s drive for Fight Against Corruption”.
He observed that “some factors responsible for the ugly development are: insufficient/Inadequate attention to relevant sectors by relevant Government agencies, poor supervision as a result of lack of concern about the plight of the people across the board, insatiable crave for money at the detriment of others and so on”.
Rep. Chinedu acknowledged that “the mission of the Federal Ministry of Transport is not only to perform the state management of Road, Rail, Inland Waterways, Sea and Air Transport, nationwide but of the public service according to law, which is partly to regulate its application by the operators as it would be favourable to the entire citizenry.
“It is the duty of Government to be alert to its responsibilities of monitoring such important sectors with the view to slap fines on any act of irresponsibility in the form of extortion or sabotage, or at best, embark on implementation of policies that may be aimed at breaking the chain of monopolistic tendencies of some of the greedy operators, as the Government cannot afford to continue to watch from the sideline, while some greedy businessmen continue to engage in obnoxious exploitations that is targeted at ripping off the common man, whose only sin is the desire to travel home, in order to unite with family members as well as take care of some nagging family concerns”.
After adopting his motion, the House “Urge the Ministry of Transport, to as a matter of urgent national importance, put modalities in place to monitor the activities of Transport operators across the country, especially during the Yuletide, in order to curtail the obnoxious hike in fares, which must go with stipulated sanctions on erring operators, as deterrence to others”.
The Green Chamber also mandated “the House Committee on Transport to interface with relevant agencies in ensuring that such seasonal arbitrariness comes to an end”.