Some private car owners in Ikorodu area of Lagos State, have blamed the rising cost of living and hike in price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, for the increasing trend of carrying passengers on their way to work.
Although the practice has been existent before, it is now becoming common to see private car drivers calling different routes as they drive out to link Lagos road from Benson and Unity Bank bus stops.
Our correspondent observed that some private cars do not call passengers at bus stops to avoid paying touts known as agberos. Such cars pick theirs along the way.
But few of them, who do not intend to drive to town with their cars half-filled, pick passengers at the bus stops, and accordingly settle the touts.
Adewale Seun, a private car owner, who spoke to Newsbreak, said he usually gave people free rides on his way to work, but he started charging due to the recent economic situation in the country.
“Like three years ago, I give people lift on my way to work. I do help some to Ketu Ojota or Maryland because I work in Surulere.
“But now, you know how much a bag of rice now sells for, they just increased electricity tariff, we no longer buy fuel at same price as three years ago. I have a family to feed. My salary has not been increased in the last two years. So I started collecting money.
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“I picked someone in April around Benson area, I told him his money is N500. He looked at me like he didn’t hear me well because I used to give him lift before. I had to explain to him. It’s tough,” he said.
Another driver, who identified himself simply as Augustine, said he realised that his expenses as a family man had increased by 60 per cent, and his savings depleted.
“Life as a Nigerian cannot be more difficult that it is now. It’s hard. I sat down and calculated how much I spend monthly on my family in terms of feeding, paying rent, school fees and all that. I realised that 60 percent of what i used to save like five, six years ago now goes into meeting those needs.
“I’m Igbo and I do business. But business is no longer what it used to be. This government has killed many businesses. Like that five years ago, I don’t even have the confidence to say I want to pick passengers because of things that happen in Lagos.
“But now, i use it to support myself. Sometimes people complain that the fare is too high, but what do i do? The situation has driven me so hard that I don’t even care if somebody snatches my car or points a gun at me at night,” he lamented.
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A pastor, who simply identified himself as Reverend Abegunde, said he uses his car to convey passengers to Maryland after his family’s morning devotion Mondays to Fridays, to supplement his salary, which he said can no longer sustain his family of six.
“Prices of things that matter to the poor have gone up. I’m a pastor and I do this five days a week after our morning devotion.
“I carry passengers to Maryland, then I will turn on the bridge, pick those coming to Ikorodu, drop them and go back home.
“Someone advised me after the lockdown that instead of just leaving the car at home everyday and complain, I should give it to someone so he can be bringing money daily. But who would you trust? I could have spent this time doing others things if things are better.
“Salary is no longer enough. Even if you earn N200, 000 monthly in this country, what would you have left after all your expenses?
“Higher institutions may resume soon, my children will return to school. I don’t know how much their fees will be. It’s saddening.”
A printing press operator, Saheed Akande, also disclosed that he started picking passengers on his way to work after the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to him, he uses the money he collects to and from Ikorodu to supplement the cost of fuel.
“One has to be smart in this country. Do you know that the amount of fuel I waste in traffic from Ikorodu to Ojota because of the ongoing construction is enough to take me to Mushin where I work and return home?”
“So I had to start picking passengers to town everyday since after the lockdown, so that my car won’t be taking more from me than my family. Normally I don’t carry passengers before now. But they’ve increased fuel price twice now in three months and see the ongoing construction too. You waste hours in traffic. I had to be wise,” he stated.