Even as airlines in Nigeria have announced a total shutdown of services come Thursday due to increase in price of aviation fuel, the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIOTA) has decried the hike in airfares and rising insecurity on Nigerian roads.
Over the past weeks, air travellers have been struggling to adjust to a major hike in the price of tickets introduced by domestic Airlines as they consider alternatives embracing road transport but insecurity poses the biggest threats on the roads.
In a statement made available to DAILY TREND on Monday, National Publicity Secretary of CIoTA, Mrs. Chizoba Anyika said the institute is perplexed by this development and the myriad of challenges plaguing Nigeria’s transport sector.
To this end, the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIoTA) has admonished the federal government to address the recent increment which is generating uproar from air travelers.
According to Mrs Anyika, local airlines hiked their minimum fare to N50,000 (for one-way economy tickets) which formerly ranged between N23,300 and N35,000.
The challenge according to her, is that travellers who cannot afford air tickets are now forced to take the option of roads which they hitherto avoided due to insecurity.
“Most passengers in the aviation sector are presently going through difficult times with this development and the situation is of great concern to the Institute. Recall the unsuccessful attacks on Abuja-Kaduna rail tracks which left travellers on that route traumatized with the associated fear and tension.
“We are concerned that the astronomical increase in airfares would increase the usage of the dilapidated Nigerian roads and further worsen their state.
“The above is a pointer that in the near future, more travellers may be kidnapped, robbed or killed on the deplorable roads if nothing urgent is done. Furthermore, public servants are already lamenting that they can no longer afford to visit their families especially in the North since their salaries will only cover just on one air travel alone,” Anyika said.
The Institute also urged the government to address the alarming spate of attacks by armed bandits on the road, citing the ordeal of the Nnewi businessman who was travelling back to his base in Port Harcourt and was killed on the road alongside military personnel on the check points.
“With this trend seemingly defying security procedures and ridiculing the efforts of law enforcement agents, some blame the cause of insecurity on exploitation, weak security apparatus, porous borders and others.
“Meanwhile, due to the negative impact of the bad roads on businesses, the prices of goods have skyrocketed and transporters still in business cannot expand as expected.
“CIoTA is concerned that the Nigerian economy will collapse with the insecurity on the deplorable roads and the ultimate losers are Nigerian road users who must contend with limited vehicle choices and companies to patronise amid rising insecurity as well as the imminent hike in transport fares.
“The Institute observed that a road trip from Lagos State to Abuja is heart retching as most parts of the road are in deplorable condition.
It is not Lagos-Ibadan road alone that is not safe, even the Abuja-Kaduna expressway with all the presence of the military, police, Department of State Security and the Federal government and diplomatic missions is not safe.
“To this end, the Institute advocates for urgent review of the price of aviation fuel which according to reports has increased to between N420 to N450 per litre as against the N400.
“The Institute urges the Federal Emergency Road Management Agency (FERMA) to commence the rehabilitating of Federal roads immediately. There is again an urgent need to beef up security networks on them. The regulators should intervene and carry out a downward review of the high cost of the airfares as the hike is too exorbitant for an average Nigerian.
“We therefore call on the States and the Federal Government to urgently secure the roads and avert impending poor patronage in air travel and the associated economic downtime” Anyika said.