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Fuel Price Hike: Nigerians Dump Personal Cars For Public Transport, Car-Sharing

...and bicycles embarassed

When the price of fuel was N86.50 per litre, Lagos-based Mr. Raji Olanrewaju used to fill up his Toyota car fuel tank with about N7,000. Now that it is being sold for N145 per litre, he now spends almost N12,000.

Two weeks ago when he drove to and fro Ibadan from Lagos (280km, according to Google Maps) to attend a social function, he spent about N4,500 on fuel at the old rate of N86.50.

A week later when the new price was announced, he spent around N9,500 to drive to and fro Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, from Lagos (174.6km).

Meanwhile, his salary has not increased and so he is unhappy.

Although fuel scarcity, coupled with high cost of buying fuel, had persisted in the country since last year, it was last week’s development that made Olanrewaju to understand the new reality.

He said, “Food prices have gone up. The amount to fill up my car fuel tank has risen. But my income has not. Now, I have abandoned my car. I have to face reality. I now go to work by public transportation. I go by Bus Rapid Transit. The convenience is no longer there like what you have when you drive your own car, but what else can one do?

“I used to take my children to school with my car, but now that’s no longer feasible. They now go via public transport. They too are feeling the economic reality. I hope things will change for the better later.”

While many people are abandoning their cars to mitigate the economic effects of the fuel price hike, another Port Harcourt resident, Mr. Solomon Gagbe, said he had bought a bicycle which he would be using to transport himself to short distant places where he used to take cabs to.

He said, “Transport fares have doubled. How many people can cope with the development? There are many expenses apart from transport that one needs to make, so I can’t allow just one aspect to gulp all my income.

“I have bought a bicycle. I used to ride before, but I stopped. Right now, I’m going back to riding bicycles. I need no fuel. Cycling doesn’t know traffic. There is not much maintenance to make, and I’ll still be able to go to anywhere I’m going to, except for long distances.”

Last week, a monarch, the traditional ruler of Nawfia in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo, had asked Nigerians to change their lifestyle so as to beat the fuel price increase.

His recommendation: “Nigerians should start riding bicycles.”

In Lagos, some commuters are now also opting for bicycles due to the hike in fuel price.

A resident of Egbeda, a furniture maker, Mr. Badmus Alade, told Saturday PUNCH he was done with his personal car for the time being.

He said, “I’ve been cycling to work since last week. I have dumped my car at home. The economic condition had been really hard since last year, then they increased the fuel price. It was just devastating. Even my children now go to school via public bus. It is not too safe for them, but what can we do for now?

“The only place we will be taking the car to now is if we have a family function at weekends or when we are going to church on Sundays. Apart from these, I’ve already covered the car with tarpaulin.”

In 2001, a former Minister of Transport, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, advocated a greater use of bicycles by Nigerians in a bid to reduce gridlock on the roads.

On Wednesday, July 18, 2001, while he was cycling to attend a Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja, two buses knocked him down into a ditch.

Hence, his advocacy for the use of bicycles was criticised, particularly because of the poor state of the country’s roads, coupled with the fact that there are no lanes for bicycles in the country unlike what is obtained in the developed countries.

Another way some Nigerians, especially in Lagos, have responded to the increase in fuel price is by adopting carpooling.

Carpooling, also known as car-sharing or ride-sharing, is the sharing of car journeys so that more than one person travels in a car.

This is how it usually works: a car owner states on an online carpooling platform his route for a particular day and then fixes a price for commuters who might want to join him for the ride — that is, those going to the same destination as him. They then book for a space in the car.

On the agreed day, the driver picks up those who booked for seats in his car and then gets paid.

Environmentalists say carpooling is also a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable way to travel as sharing journeys reduces carbon emissions, traffic congestion on the roads, and the need for parking spaces.

In the developed economies, authorities have often encouraged carpooling, especially during periods of high pollution or high fuel prices, just like what is obtainable in the country presently.

For example, in the United States in 2009, carpooling represented 43.5 per cent of all trips in the country and 10 per cent of all commute trips, according to statistics.

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Posted By cheatmaster On 11:45 Sat, 21 May 2016

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