Private commuter bus operators in Lagos, Nigeria, have increased fares by as much as 100 percent.
The increase is coming on the heels of increase in fares by the government-owned Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) by N20.
The private bus operators attributed the increase to increase in the cost of spare parts and other operational costs.
Investigations revealed that the drivers popularly called danfo drivers increased their fares between 30 and 100 percent.
For example, private commuter buses plying the Iyana-Ipaja-Egbeda route in the state now collect N60, against the initial N30 and N40 charged passengers.
Transport fare from Iyana-Ipaja to Iyana-Iba, formerly N100 is now N150, even though BRT is still charging N50 from Iyana-Ipaja to Igando.
Iyana-Ipaja to Ikotun, which was formerly N70 is now between N100 and N120.
Since Monday, bus fares from Ojota to Onipanu have been increased to N100 instead of the former N60 or N70.
Some of the danfo drivers on that route have even deployed new strategies which included breaking the journey into parts in order to earn more from the commuters.
While the BRT charges N70 per passenger from Mile 12 to Fadeyi, danfo drivers collect N70 between Palm Groove and Ojota. They collect another N30 to Ketu and another N30 to Mile 12, thus making a passenger part with a total sum of N130, instead of N100 formerly charged for the route.
From Fadeyi to Lagos Island, BRT charges N70 while danfo drivers charge N120.
Some of the danfo drivers said they were happy that the government set the pace.
They also said that they had been thinking of several ways to increase fares to offset the money paid to their union, the National Union of Road Transport Workers.
Asked if they met and agreed on the particular amount to charge passengers, Jim Okoye, a driver, who plies the Ojota-Ojuelegba axis, said the drivers met few days after the government announced the increment and decided to increase fares too.
Another driver, who gave his name as Wasiu, said he made about N6, 000 after charging passengers N250 from Iyana-Ipaja to Yaba, instead of the usual N200.
â€œGovernor Fashola actually helped us. Now, passengers donâ€™t complain much because they know it is not our fault. We wanted to increase it before now, but this is an opportunity,â€ the driver stated.
Opinions of commuters differ on the increase in the fares of BRT. While some described it as a welcome development, others say the increment should not have come by now.
Mr. Abraham Akpabio, journalist, said, â€œthe increase is understandable. For the system to have worked for two years and some months without increase, I think it is okay.
”My advice to the management of the system is that it should see to the case of overloading. It should maintain the appropriate capacity that the buses can carry. Also, it should try to extend its services to other parts of the state, so that the dividends of democracy in transportation sector can go round.”
Another commuter, Mr. Bola Jimoh, a commercial printer said: â€œLet us give kudos to the management of BRT for running it for two years without increase. The fare should have been increased next year when they mark their anniversary.”
However, a commuter, Mrs. Taiwo Aina, faulted the N70 fare from Mile 12 to Fadeyi. She argued that if the journey from Mile 12 to TBS costs N120, consideration should be giving to those going shorter distances. â€œSomeone going to TBS from Mile 12 is paying N120, and someone stopping at Fadeyi pays N70. I see that as a cheating. Those operating the system should look into this,â€ she advised.
â€”Eromosele Ebhomele & Paul Sanusi