By Phillip Anjorin.
Students of Adekunle Ajasin University , Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), Ondo State resumed early this week(January 18).
The Acting Registrar, Mr. Opeoluwa Akinfenwa in a statement also said examination begins next week (January 25).
However,with examination staring students in the face following more than 10 months on break as a result of the pandemic lockdown and ASUU strike, this reporter decided to return to school on Saturday, January 16 in preparation for resumption.
On getting to the park in Akure, he realised that the fare which was negotiable at N1000 prior to lockdown had increased to N1200. It must be noted that a small vehicle is expected to convey 4 passengers at a go while a big vehicle (SIENNA) can transport 7 travellers.
Nonetheless, it is the norm for a four-passenger vehicle to carry 6 while a seven-passenger vehicle picks 10 before moving. This is attributed to fees they pay on the road to police and road transport workers. Prior to #ENDSARS protest, they pay N50 to N100 to a minimum of eight collectors on each trip.
He was shocked when told to pay N1200, despite negotiating, and the vehicle packed full.
As the journey progressed,the seven-man passenger car would have more members as the driver kept advertising.
When we got to Ayepe-Ogbese enroute Owo, the driver picked four more persons occupying a seat for three, irrespective of stature at the back. This reporter accepted his fate as he had paid at the garage and possibility of reimbursement was slim.
The threat to breathing finally began when the vehicle started releasing carbon monoxide. The interior was filled with smoke. It was nauseating and suffocating with 11 persons in a car for Eeight; this reporter was forced to ask for reprieve at Oba Akoko in an attempt to enjoy fresh air.
Recently, there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases leading to deaths daily. However, it is sad that little attention is paid to transportation within and outside states in the country.
Benin City to Owo was N1,200 before COVID-19, while Abeokuta to Ibadan was N1,000. At N2,500, passengers were conveyed from Abuja to Akungba. Friom Okitipupa to Akure was fixed at N800 to N1,200 and subject to negotiation. Ibadan to Akungba was fixed at N2,200.
The story changed during the lockdown as all prices were increased. Benin City to Owo became N2,500, while Owo to Akungba rose from N500 to N800. Abeokuta to Ibadan became N1,200. Abuja to Akungba increased by N500. Okitipupa to Akure as at last December was N1,500. Ibadan to Akungba became N3,000. Lagos to Akungba, previously at N2,500 was put at N4,100 as at January 15.
The increment then was imperative since buses could not convey their usual number of passengers. It was to ensure social distancing. With resumption across the nation following reassurance from the Presidential Task Force( PTF) on school resumption, students have started travelling in multitudes.
However, drivers have thrown caution to the wind by reverting to normal seating arrangement. There is no consideration for COVID-19 protocols because they believe road transport workers and police are milking them dry.Hence,the price remains the same as it was during the lockdown.
- Anjorin is a 300-Level Mass Communication student of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko.