TUC Kicks Against Proposed Fare Hike In Lagos

Source: OUR REPORTER - thewillnigeria.com

ABUJA, August 06, (THEWILL) - The Lagos State Council of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has kicked against the proposed fare increase in Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) services as advertised in their leaflet dated 1st July, 2010.

"The proposed fare hike was done without due consultations with stakeholders and is entirely rejected by our members and the general public", the Union said in a petition addressed to the Managing Director and Chief Executive officer of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) dated July 28, 2010 and made available to THEWILL.

The petition which was copied to the Lagos State Governor and the state House of Assembly was signed by TUC’s Lagos Council Chairman and Secretary, Comrades Akeem A. Kazeem and Olawale Omotaje respectively.

"Our members and the general public have trooped to our office to express their rejection and after prolonged consultations, the Lagos State Council is left with no other option than to reject the proposed increase", the petition read in part.

Justifying the rejection in the proposed fare hike TUC said the BRT has surpassed its proposed original target of 100% fold due to massive and unprecedented patronage by the masses stressing that as at the last count the BRT system had carried 120 million passengers in the last two years, thereby making unprecedented and unimaginable profit for its operators.

It noted that if put at an average of N50 per passenger, the scheme has raked in Six billion naira (N6Billion) since inception apart from the fact that the BRT system operates with brand new buses thereby minimizing the cost of maintenance as compared with similar bus companies, or individual buses or transport operators, even with old vehicles; all of whom have not increased their fares.

The Union reasoned that the so called proposal marginal increase was not marginal in any way because these have to be borne daily by commuters, thereby translating into huge sums from the pockets of the already pauperized citizens of Lagos at the end of the month.

"An increase that amounts to 40% in transport cost like N70 from Ojota to Fadeyi as against the current N50 is not marginal, more so, since there is no similar 40% increase in the transport allowance, salaries or income of public servant or commuters", the Union said.

The Union argued that the existing fare, without any further increase, going by all indices is already sufficiently expensive enough adding that BRT operators enjoy a near monopoly status in the sense of having a section of the road exclusively reserved for its use, thereby making several trips and returns; an advantage that is not available to other transporters; who have even been banned from the central highways and restricted to the passenger lane.

It further said that there is no increase in the price of petroleum products that could justify such a similar 40% increase in transport fare calling the decision to effect a marginal increase unilateral, unjustifiable and insensitive.

The Union noted that if anything, the development is an affront to the democratic disposition of Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) who always resorted to social dialogue with stakeholders on issues of this nature citing the recent consultation with stakeholders on the tollgate at Lekki peninsula.