As the world continues to grope with the harsh reality of COVID-19, residents of Osun State, most especially, Osogbo are lamenting the increment in inter-city and intra-city transport fares.
Residents of Osun, particularly those whose residential houses are in Owode-Ede, have bemoaned the unexplained increment of the fee by taxi drivers.
Some of the residents, who ply the road every day by boarding inter-city commercial minibuses popularly called Korope disclosed that the bus drivers could not give a satisfactory explanation to justify what they described inhumane increment.
In an interview with some of the residents, they lamented that such an increment, at a time when COVID-19 has affected their source of income negatively, is nothing short of cruelty.
A resident of Owode, Alhaja Silifat Olayiwola, revealed that she could not fathom why the drivers would increase the transport fare when there is no scarcity of fuel.
She said: “When I confronted one driver to know why the fare was increased, he was simply staring at me like a lizard. These people are really wicked; they convey the usual number of passengers, yet they increase the price. And I wonder why.”
Adebayo Idowu , who resides at Owode but owns a shop in Odiolowo, Osogbo, stated that increment came as a rude shock to him.
Idowu said: “I was shocked when the driver insisted that I should pay N100 from Owode to Olaiya. This is wickedness! We are still battling with Coronavirus, and these korope drivers have come up with this.
“The government should look into this latest development and do the needful because it will only make things much more difficult for poor people.”
Another resident, Pastor Joseph Ogunlowo, implored the transport operators to have compassion on the populace, saying that “we ought to love one another right now, but this hike in transport fare is not a demonstration of love.”
Reacting to the indictment, some of the drivers maintained that the transport fare was increased as a result of COVID-19, stressing that they only acted on the directives of their leaders.
A driver, who simply identified himself as Olatunji, said: “some of us are not happy about the development. We are only acting on the directives of our leaders”
Olatunji maintained that “since there is no scarcity of fuel, and we still convey normal passengers, I don’t see the reason for the increase in the transport fare.”
He added that some of them are not happy with the development, hence, the reason they did not dance to the tune of the leaders.
On the part of the government, Engineer Hussain Olaniyan, Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation stated that there should be a consideration and support for the government’s effort.
He refuted the allegation that the State Government supports the transport operators’ action.
The SA stressed that the Federal Government has reduced the pump price of fuel; hence, drivers should demonstrate empathy with commuters.
According to Engineer Olaniyan: “The government’s attention has been drawn to the move by some transport operators in the State of Osun to increase transport fares.
“We also heard that the transport operators claimed that the State Government is in support of their move to increase fares.
“Government hereby refutes this claim. In order to resolve the situation, the government has invited the leadership of the transport union for an urgent meeting today at the Government Secretariat, Abere.”
Olaniyan avowed that further information on ” the transport fare will be communicated to the commuting members of the public.”