The halcyon days, when Enugu’s avenues, roads and streets teemed with vehicular traffic of all shapes and sizes, seem to be at an end, following the shockwave created by the recent removal of the much-debated fuel subsidy by Nigeria’s new President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, which has led to the rise in the price of petrol.
The controversial policy has seen the price of petrol jump from N220 to at least N520 per litre, an increase of more than one hundred per cent, across all petrol stations in Enugu.
This reporter took a drive around Enugu’s major roads – a very expensive ride, I can assure you, dear readers – and observed that road traffic has significantly reduced on Ogui Road, Okpara Avenue, Chime Avenue, Agbani Road, Abakaliki Road, and Annang Street. Not long ago, a few days back in fact, these thoroughfares were scenes of massed vehicles, and often witnessed traffic jams, with motorists vociferously claiming one right or the other over fellow road users. Most streets of Enugu are presently almost empty of vehicles, including even the ubiquitous keke tricycles and the numerous mini shuttle buses.
People are trekking.
Another unfortunate but inevitable fallout from this FG policy is that transportation costs have hit a record high in the Coal City. A commercial driver who spoke with us, Obi Okafor, said that, previously, a mini shuttle bus ride from Gariki to Agric. Bank Bus-Stop, in Independence Layout cost about N200, but now it has risen to nearly double that figure, between N350 to N400. Likewise, a ride from Gariki to IMT, Abakaliki Road, which cost N300 before, now goes for N500 to N600 !
From Gariki to New Market previously cost about N150 to N200. Now, commuters have to cough up between N300 to N400. From one of Enugu’s most popular routes, Council Bus-Stop in Ogui New Layout, to Abakpa-Nike, the most populous district in the metropolis, previously cost N200. It now costs between N300 to N400.
The keke tricycle riders are not left out, as their charges depend on the distance covered. Hence, a ‘drop’ from Zik Avenue to Trans-Ekulu via keke tricycle could cost up to N3000.
Transport costs, we learnt, have been uniformly hiked across board, due to the fuel subsidy removal.
This situation has led to increased groaning from Enugu dwellers, who have to pay so much more for transportation, without any cushion, and without any increase in wages, not to mention without any warning.
This has also affected all sectors of human life in these parts, from food to medical care; from clothing to housing; and from the civil service to private business.
You name it, and the price is much higher, just because of this FG policy which removed the subsidy on fuel.
It remains to be seen how this very thorny issue will be resolved, if at all it can be resolved.