Despite the recent reduction in pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol, from N97 to N87 per liter, some residents in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT ) are groaning under high transportation fare as commercial motorists in the Metropolis have refused to slash their charges.
Checks revealed that commercial transport operators still charge commuters the same rates as it was when fuel pump price was N97.
A cross section of residents in separate interviews with Peoples Daily expressed their deep concern over the situation.
They said it was rather unfair that since the federal government announced the fuel pump price reduction penultimate week, cooperate and self-employed commercial transporters have not reduce their transportation fare.
According to the most of the residents, they had expected a drop in transportation fare within and around the FCT, while a few were of the view that the reduction was too insignificant to have ripple effect on cost of doing business in the Territory and country at large.
Recall that many expressed mixed reactions over federal government’s sudden 10 % reduction in cost of petrol, due to the fall in the prices of petroleum at the international market.
Following the reduction, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deizani Alison-Madueke, gave a marching order to all fuel stations and the regulatory authorities to effect the change of price straight away.
According to the Minister, the reduction is because of the fall in global crude oil price.
However, many observers are saying that the real reason for the slight reduction is because President Jonathan is trying to score cheap political, to enable him win February 14 presidential elections.
It was gathered that these reservations are pouring despite several calls in some quarters that there should be reduction in pump price of refined petroleum products, following due to the drastic fall in the prices of crude oil in the international market, prior to the Sunday’s directive.
Also, investigation revealed that while few fuel stations within the city have started selling at the new N87 pump price , many still retain the old price N97, but promising to adjust to the new approved price as soon as they exhaust their old stock.
It was observed that almost all fuel stations in the city, are selling petrol to motorists at the new price.
A business man, Etim Bassey, says ” the federal government has done very well by reducing the pump price, hence it beholds commercial motorists also should follow suit by reducing their fares.
“Many commuters had hope that now that petrol cost is less by N10, that the transporters should equally reduce their chargers otherwise the reduction would be meaningless to us.
“Because, before now, commercial transport operators usually complain of high pump price of fuel, but now that the government have brought it down, they should let the masses enjoy the little benefit of the reduction.
“Therefore, I strongly think that transportation workers associations should ensure that the reduction of fare is been considered.”
Another resident, in Gwarinpa Estate, Mr. Joseph Dayo, argued why commercial transporters especially taxi drivers do not want to reduce transportation fee, even though the pump price have been slashed.
“It could be that the reason for the commercial transporters’ reluctance to reduce their charges may not be unconnected to the cost of maintaining their vehicles,” he noted.
One, Mrs. Blessing Dogo, a civil servant, opined that the government should do something about the issue.
He wondered why the government have reduced pump price, but they (transporters) refused to reduce their fare, as commuters still pay the same amount of money hitherto the cut down in petrol price.
“Every time there are increases in petrol price, these transporters always exploit us, the masses, while the government too in their little corner seemed too comfortable with the issue.
“Even if the reduction is just 10 naira, just as the government have done so , transporters should help us too, by reducing their charges.
Similarly, another resident, Tanko Sule, who emphasised that transport unions are responsible should ensure commercial drivers bring down the current high transport fare in the FCT as not only government have monopoly over the public transport system.
“You see if government do their own part by cutting price of petrol price, let’s us too on our part as citizens help ease each other’s pains, even if it is two naira that the government have reduced, the transportation fare should be reduced,” he stressed.
Interestingly, some residents, who expressed their reservations over the fuel pump price reduction, said it was too little and long over long overdue.
They argued that the development was rather only pointer to the government’s insensitivity to the plights of the masses.
A resident, Princewill Okoro, who expressed delight over the development, said the reduction shows that the government now listens to the voice of the common man, calling for the downward adjustment of the petrol pump price, in line with global trend.
According to him, Irrespective of enormous suspicions trailing the government’s action, the authorities deserve some level of commendation, for taken a bold step.
He added that it is good effort, “but there were still more to be done, as the people can get a much better deal from the over 50% drop crude oil price.”
“For me, I had long expected the reduction, giving the consistent dip in crude oil price at international market, but perhaps the government needed time to put things in order, before finally coming out with the directive.
“But I was very happy when I heard that there was a slight reduction of petrol pump price, at least people especially motorists will have something to save, even as we look forward for more reduction if the situation in the international market persists,” says a motorist, John Okey.
Another resident, Mr. Edmond Glen says: “I see the development as part of political desperation by the President Goodluck Jonathan to win February 14 elections; he is just trying to win over Nigerian’s heart.
“If at this point in time, where we have just three weeks to elections, that oil price is been reduced.
“It is an indirect way to say that they are looking for power as all cost.”
Similarly, a business expert, Faith Sunday, noted that the issue of the oil price reduction may be considered a serious political strategy, even as good as it may appears to be, it was clear that people will misinterpret it because the election is already at hand.
She added that the Government’s decision to reduce the oil price may not be entirely because the president wants to win elections at all cost, as it is understandable that the reduction came because of the variability of oil prices in the international market.
According to her, since there is a fallen oil price by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which means other countries should look inward by going back to their various domestic market and effect the change, so that what I believed happened.
He stressed that looking at the development from the business perspective, of international oil market and importation of Nigeria petroleum products, which has affected the oil market and prices of oil products in Nigeria, it is a good step in the right direction.
“What the government has done is not new or different from what other countries are doing; places like United States of America (USA) have done so before now.
“For instance in the USA, for the past four month a gallon of petroleum dropped from $3 to $2 dollars per litre; this was possible, because of their membership of the OPEC, so in Nigeria although it is just 10 %, anything can still happen.
“The problem with the reduction is that a lot of people read meaning to it, because even analysts are saying, there is a political undertone in it,” she stressed.
For one resident, who was seen around Peace Mass Transit Park, Mr. A. Emmanuel, “it was not political move, as it is a normal thing that is been done by the administration, due to the fallen prices of crude oil in international market.
“In general perspective, as the crude oil prices have fallen in the international market, it was a matter of time that it would affect Nigeria’s domestic market, therefore it’s a good thing that the administration has done so,” he explained.
Not left out, one Mallam Isa Bello, a motorist insists that; “reducing the oil price is not the problem but how effective the directive would be, “because since the announcement on Sunday, until this afternoon (yesterday) we still brought oil at price.
“Also, of what effect it would have on the welfare of the people should be the main the issue, not the mere reduction itself.
“But, it is rather unfortunate that the oil price reduction is all Goodluck strategy to campaign for his re-election bid next month.
Again, another resident, Umar Isa, says: “Somebody should let the authorities know that when we said that we wanted change in pump price in line with global trend in the sector, we didn’t mean a meager N10 change reduction for a commodity, which its raw material has over 50% drop in price.
“Even, at that why now, when other world leaders did so several months ago; but the government should stop playing politics with critical economic issue like fuel.”
However, for a motorist, who was spotted after filling his tank with the product at the new reduced price, from a petrol station in Garki, Uche Obia, with the development, it means more money would be saved from buying the same quantity of the product for other things.
“My fuel tank is 80 litres, and a N10 reduction means that I can save N1, 000 on each full tank, at least that should help me take care of lunch while at work.
“So, for those seeing it as political strategy, they should really have a re-think by being a bit more objective of the situation.
Meanwhile, a driver at Wuse market, Ayo Wale, notes that “it is not that we (transporters) cannot reduce the current transport fare, but the problem is that some filling stations sell the fuel at the old price of N97 per liter, while others who sell at the new price had adjusted their meters.
“With N3, 000, I usually filled my car fuel tank when the fuel was N97, and now that the pump price has reduced, I still use the same amount to fill my fuel tank, even though the pump price has been slashed.
“How do people want us to slash our fares; do you know that fuel is the last that carry small percentage of the money, so why should we reduce the fare?
“That’s why the people have not yet started feeling the impact of the reduction, “the motorist stressed.
Not let out, a commuter, who identified herself as Madam Okey says “how can I still we paying the same amount of money from Banex to Jabi, since the petrol pump price have been reduced, motorist do not have any excess not to reduce the transportation fare.
“For example any time there is high price in oil pump drivers will be so happy to increase the fare, but for a week since the reduction, we still pay same N100, which is unfair too.”
In the same vein, one Samuel Ibrahim admits “considering the fact that the oil pump price has been reduced, we the commuters have not felt the effect of reduction in the sense that taxi and bus fares have not changed the price of transportation fares.
“Since there is a reduction in price of the petrol, we also expect a reduction in cab and bus fares in the FCT.
“Usually, the cab and bus drivers give the excuse for the increase in transportation fare due to fuel scarcity or increase in oil pump price.
“Now, what is the excuse for the refusal to reduce transport fares, since there is no fuel scarcity and the price of the petrol pump price has reduced?
“This has to be looked into because it is supposed to automatically affect the transportation fares in the Federal Capital Territory.
“We public transport users cannot be paying the same charges because it is not fair to us, since the price have dropped, we also expect a decrease; the prices have to be reduced,” Ibrahim noted.