'We have to increase transport fare,' NURTW says as interstate movement resumes

The transport union has called on the government to subsidise the cost of travel.

Interstate movement will resume on Wednesday, July 1 [Guardian]

While some states started restricting border movements in April 2020 in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Federal Government implemented a nationwide ban on interstate movement in early May.

However, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 announced on Monday, June 29 that interstate movement can now resume across the country starting from Wednesday, July 1.

Chief among safety measures ordered by the government is that vehicles can only fill 50% of their capacities.

Acting General Secretary of the NURTW, Kabiru Yau, said on Tuesday, June 30 that this could force drivers to hike transport fare if they're not supported by the government.

He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) during an interview that the reduced number of passengers allowed on interstate trips will badly affect the income of drivers.

He said, "Due to the spacing in the vehicles which will require the drivers to carry only nine or ten instead of the usual 18 passengers, the income of the drivers will be reduced.

"So we want the government to help subsidise the cost of those passengers that we will not be carrying or we will have to increase our transport fare."

Despite the ban on interstate movement, thousands of people were allowed during the period to move across state lines by security agents who manned roadblocks set up strictly to prevent movement.

The PTF chairman, Boss Mustapha, said on Monday that the ban was lifted because it was not working, and created a side business for agents who were profiting from allowing illegal movement by charging motorists and travellers.

"People were paying so much to embark on those unnecessary illegal trips," he lamented.

Movement across state boundaries are allowed between 4 am and 10 pm, as the nationwide curfew between 10 pm and 4 am remains in place.

Safety guidelines issued by the government to the transport union in the administration of motor parks and terminals include disinfection and sanitisation, social distancing in waiting areas, posting of notices on conduct of persons, temperature checks, wearing of face masks, and other crowd control measures.

Yau said all the measures will be implemented with motorists and passengers to combat the spread of the disease that has already infected 25,133 people and killed 573 in Nigeria, as of June 29.

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