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Yuletide: Tinubu cuts bus fare by 50%, declares free train trips

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has approved a 50 per cent discount for Nigerians willing to travel by mini and luxury buses across various states during…

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has approved a 50 per cent discount for Nigerians willing to travel by mini and luxury buses across various states during the Yuletide season.

The Minister of Solid Minerals, Dele Alake, announced this to State House reporters in Abuja yesterday.

Alake presented the briefing in the company of three other members of the Inter-ministerial Committee on Presidential Intervention. He chairs the committee, which has the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris; Minister of Transportation, Saidu Alkali and the Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, as members.

He said the slash in fare for Nigerians travelling during this holiday would start on December 21 (today) and end on January 4, 2024.

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Alake said the president also directed that commuters on all train services be granted 100 per cent free rail trips along the Kaduna-Abuja, Lagos-Ibadan, Warri-Itakpe routes during the period.

He, however, disclosed during the question and answer session that air travel was excluded from the initiative because the scheme solely targets the masses, saying, “The initiative is for the masses. Air transport is a luxury. The masses don’t use air transport. So they are our main target.”

Alake said the special presidential intervention was to bring down the cost of public transportation in view of the economic situation of the country.

He said the government, through the Ministry of Transportation, would be working with transporters, road transport unions, and the Nigerian Railway Corporation to seamlessly deliver on this special presidential relief initiative.

He also stated that from today, Nigerians wishing to embark on inter-state travel to any part of the country from Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Ibadan, Akure, Maiduguri, Sokoto and other major inter-state transportation hubs would be able to do so at half the cost.

He said the government was working very hard to make sure Nigerians had a memorable and happy holiday season.

He said Tinubu had directed the police, Department of State Services, military, and other security agencies to work collaboratively to ensure that the holiday period was safe, without any security breach in any part of the country.

The minister, who wished all Nigerians a great holiday season, Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year in advance on behalf of President Tinubu, implored “everyone to be law-abiding, be security conscious, be our brother’s keepers, and extend every goodwill to our families, friends and neighbours.

“The president is well aware of the recent increase in the cost of inter-state transportation and even air travel. Traditionally, our people love to travel during Christmas and the end of the year to be with families and friends, and this has been the practice for ages.

“We also know that globally, intra-country travel and movement of people, goods and services always peak around Christmas and the end of the year because of the socio-gravitational pull of the period, which transporters always cash on to increase fares astronomically.

“In recognition of the economic situation of the country, which he is working very hard to turn around, President Tinubu wants Nigerians to be able to travel within Nigeria to wherever they want to go to meet their loved ones without the extra burden of paying exorbitantly for inter-state public transportation.

“It is in this wise that the federal government is announcing, beginning tomorrow, a special discounted holiday season fare on road transport and zero-fare by rail across Nigeria.

“What this means is that from tomorrow, Nigerians willing to travel can board public transport via minibuses, luxury buses at 50% discount of the current cost, and all our train services on the routes the trains currently serve at zero cost to and fro on their travels this holiday season.”

The Minister of Transportation, Saidu Alkali, said the government partnered with transport companies operating these formats, following their well-organised structures across the country.

“So, we held a meeting with the president of the union, and they gave us an idea of how much they charge on a normal day, but during festive times, when the buses travel, they return empty, and it is on that account that they have to increase the fare during festivities. That has been taken into account.

“And why have we decided to have 50 per cent for land transport? You see, when you have this kind of initiative or programme to implement, you have to be mindful of the security situation. If you say it’s for free, even those who did not intend to travel will just go to the park and say they want to travel. But with this 50%, they have the ticketing system.

“So, for those who intend to travel, the federal government will provide 50 per cent for them. They do one trip daily; we are going to maintain that,” the minister added.

Information and National Orientation Minister Mohammed Idris said Nigerians should expect more interventions by President Tinubu during national holidays.

He said the 50 per cent reduction in the cost of road transportation during this year’s Yuletide season would not be a one-off intervention by the president.

 

We’re ready for implementation – Bus owners  

Luxury bus owners, under the aegis of the Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria (ALBON), said they would commence implementation today.

Findings by our correspondent indicated that the federal government plans to offset the 50 per cent waiver by paying the operators based on the number of passengers they would convey during the period.

The founder of ABC Transport and a chieftain of ALBON, Frank Nneji, told Daily Trust that the association was reaching out to members and operators to immediately commence the implementation of the directive.

Nneji said, “We have been speaking with the minister under the umbrella of the Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria (ALBON), and we are putting logistics in place to ensure smooth implementation.

“The government has given us assurance to offset the 50 per cent.”

He confirmed that some operators would start implementing it as from today, depending on capacity.

“But the challenge is that many people have booked in advance. So, we will do what we can as from tomorrow to be able to accommodate everybody. We would even stretch it to the New Year.

“In Abuja, our executives are reaching out to the various major operators to work out the modality.”

He commended the president for the gesture, which he stated would help alleviate the suffering of the people.

“This is one of the best ways to alleviate the suffering of the masses. You know we are very passionate about visiting home at the end of the year, and for any person to whom you give a discounted ticket to go home, it is very memorable.

“So, it is appreciated because, given the cost of operation to us, it is difficult for us not to raise fares. But with the government intervening, that is a welcome development.”

On how to avert abusing the process, either by transporters or those charged with implementing the intervention, another official of the union said that will not be difficult.

“You know, we are fully structured; there is a manifest for each bus that has the names, addresses, and other details of prospective customers.

“You, the pressmen, can help by asking questions, by scrutinising the manifest and calling some of the passengers for them to confirm whether they enjoyed the discount or not,” he said.

Our correspondent, who had earlier yesterday checked some parks in Lagos, reports that transport fares had spiked ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays.

At Iyana-Ipaja Park, one of the popular interstate parks in Lagos, it was learnt that most of the vehicles leaving for the South East till the weekend had been fully booked, but the motorists said many people were still not travelling this year because of the high cost of living.

 

Book your tickets online, NRC tells travelers

The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has declared a free train ride from Thursday on all its passenger services.

The NRC, in a statement yesterday, said: “Passengers are advised to obtain their free tickets via the online e-ticketing platforms only.

“Tickets will not be issued at any of the corporation’s train stations. Please note that no commuter will be allowed to board the train without a ticket.

“We enjoin commuters to be orderly and obey security personnel and the laid-down boarding instructions of the NRC and those of its officials while at the station and on-board the trains. We wish all our esteemed customers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance.”

Daily Trust reports that the free services covered all passenger services operated by the NRC, including the Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna and Warri-Itakpe train services.

On his part, the Acting National President of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Issa Ore, said the directive only affects interstate operators.

 

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