The subsidised metro buses dispatched to Maiduguri roads by the Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, have crashed transportation fare in the city.
The governor had launched 70 metro buses to crisscross the city everyday and ease transportation costs and difficulties in the state.
“I want you to ensure that these buses start operations tomorrow morning, unfailingly. You should however be mindful of our situation and ensure that you bring down the cost of transportation.
“Let us consider it as a social service and not as a revenue generation drive,” Zulum told the Borno Express management.
Our correspondent who went round the state capital, reports that civil servants, students and other commuters said the gesture was a relief to masses struggling to survive the current economic situation.
Aishatu Haruna Mohammed, a student of the College of Business and Management Studies Konduga, said the metro buses have reduced her transportation cost.
“Before, we were paying N150 to Keke Napep operators per drop, but with the metro buses that government introduced, we pay only N50 to cover the same distance and for my daily four drops, I now spent N200 against N600,” she added.
Yunusa Salisu, a civil servant, said he was excited by the decision of the governor to buy the buses.
“It has assisted not only students but we the parents in reducing cost because before now, Keke Napep operators charged N150 per drop within the city and sometimes you have to take four drops to and from your destination, just like your children would also take same to school.
“At the end of the month, you will realise that half of your salary is spent on transportation.”
He called on the government to ensure proper maintenance and sustainability of the metro bus service.
Bunu Hassan, another civil servant, said the initiative would change the lives of many people in the state.
“If you are following things in Maiduguri, you will know that many students and civil servants have resorted to the use of bicycles to work and school.
“With these buses, we would at least save money from our salaries to do other things because some of us are usually left with nothing at the end of the day,” he said.
Philabus Zakaria, a Keke Napep operator, said the introduction of the metro buses has drastically reduced the number of passengers that patronise them.
“You will wait for passengers at the bus stop but the metro buses will come and pack them. Now, they have reduced us to conveying passengers that go into the narrow streets of the town.
“It’s not our fault that the transport fare increased, it’s the subsidy removal. We buy fuel at N637 per litre, but the presence of the buses has forced us to reduce the fare we charge from N150 to N100 and we are operating at a loss,” he said.
The State Chairman, Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) Yusuf Inuwa, appreciated the governor for acting on their demands, saying the metro buses would go a long way in alleviating the suffering of the people.
The General Manager of Borno Express Grema Zannah Kyari, said Governor Zulum unveiled the fleet of 70 buses to alleviate the burden of commuting for both government employees and the general public.
He said each of the vehicles is equipped with modern amenities, including air conditioning facilities and comfortable seating arrangements to ensure a pleasant commuting experience.
“We have 15 routes that these buses ply and the passengers pay only N50, no matter the distance. For instance, we have Post office to Mai Malari Barracks; Post office to Mala Kachalla Bypass; Post office to Polo site; Post office to State University and so on,” he said.
He said that fuel subsidy has put many people into economic hardship and the only support to them is to ease the transport cost.
He allayed the fear of some commuters that the programme may face hitches if not carefully handled. “Borno Express has maintained decades of effective service to customers.
“For years, we have been operating a free school bus program and it has not stopped even for a day. We instilled discipline in our staff, especially the drivers. So, maintaining the buses would not be a problem for us,” he said.