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 In Awka, bus drivers decry low patronage

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Bus Drivers

… Urge govt to review N20,000 monthly due

By Ray Udeagbara

THE tripartite union of Awka Township Bus Service says Governor Soludo’s modernisation of parks and upward review of the amount it remits to his administration are in good faith as these will help the administration generate funds to actualise its vision of transforming Anambra State.

  The union, comprising Drivers Welfare Association, Perm Site, Drivers Welfare Association, Nibo-Mbaukwu and Drivers Welfare Association, Ifite-UNIZIK, at a meeting in Awka, pointed out that the present administration has demonstrated uncommon commitment and seriousness to duty.

  According to the members of the Awka Township Bus Service Union, Soludo’s administration has embarked on concrete strategic fight against criminals with most of them on the run today and peace and security gradually returning to the state.

  While commending the governor for his good leadership and his bold and robust plans to take Anambra to the next level, the members of the association pointed out what they described as “the unique and unfortunate condition they find themselves under the present dire economic circumstance,” adding that the peculiar condition they find themselves has made it absolutely impossible for them to meet government demand that each driver pays N20,000 monthly.

  Members of the association pleaded that the government considers their plight and allows them to be paying N2,500 weekly, which brings up their monthly payment to N10,000.

  According to them, any payment above N10,000 monthly will cripple their transport business as they have many expenses to contain with, such as maintenance of their dilapidated vehicles including purchase of fuel and oil daily, and fending for their families since most of them have families of five or six.

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  Commenting on the adverse conditions they work in, the Chairman of Drivers Welfare Association, Perm Site, Mr. Patrick Ezebelu lamented that tricycle operators along Ukwuorji have taken over their passengers who join them to Aroma leaving their buses virtually empty. He also hinted that the closure of Government House back gate has deprived them of patronage by civil servants who will not join their buses any longer because they will find no passage to their offices at the Government House when they come down at Ukwuorji as the gate is closed, even as he stated that most ministries are now re-located to the Secretariat, thereby worsening their plight as workers in these ministries do not join their buses any longer.

  Mr. Ezubelu also pointed out that some civil servants who hitherto joined their buses to work now go with government buses.

  Also speaking, the Chairman, Drivers Welfare Association, Nibo-Mbaukwu, Comrade Adams Oforkansi disclosed that their main source of getting passengers had been closed owing to the prolonged ASUU strike, adding that  they ply their route only on Eke days when market women go to Eke Nibo Market.

  In his reaction, the Chairman, Drivers Welfare Association, Ifite-UNIZIK, Comrade Igwebuike Sunday cried out that the protracted ASUU strike which has closed down Nnamdi Azikiwe University has so adversely affected them that they hardly go home with up to N1000 after the days toil.

  Some of the bus drivers who spoke on the occasion like Emma Ifediora, Tony Obiji, Fidelis Akangwe and Tobias Ifejika lamented the untold hardship the present ASUU strike, absence of students on the road, and the closure of Government House back gate through which civil servants pass to enter their buses have brought to them, just as he disclosed that most of them have parked their vehicles and those who “could manage” now abandon these their “now-ghost routes” to ply along Awka-Nkpor and Onitsha Road instead of remaining  idle.

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  They muted that they may be forced to double or triple their transport fares if the present condition persists.

  Fidelis Ajanu remarked that government’s intention is very good but expressed the hope that officials of “this administration” should look into the transport operation to find out themselves that hardly could any bus be seen with more than four to five passengers, pointing out that this will prove to them that bus operators hardly get home with over N1,000 after the days job.

  Observers, particularly commuters said buses plying under these associations have had nuts to crack under the present circumstance.

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