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N145: Nigerians Dump Personal Cars for Public Transport, Bicycles

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When the price of fuel was N86.50 per litre, Lagos-based Mr. Raji Olanrewaju used to fill up his Toyota car fuel tank with about N7,000. Now that it is being sold for N145 per litre, he now spends almost N12,000.

Two weeks ago when he drove to and fro Ibadan from Lagos (280km, according to Google Maps) to attend a social function, he spent about N4,500 on fuel at the old rate of N86.50.

A week later when the new price was announced, he spent around N9,500 to drive to and fro Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, from Lagos (174.6km).

Meanwhile, his salary has not increased and so he is unhappy.

Although fuel scarcity, coupled with high cost of buying fuel, had persisted in the country since last year, it was last week’s development that made Olanrewaju to understand the new reality.

He said, “Food prices have gone up. The amount to fill up my car fuel tank has risen. But my income has not. Now, I have abandoned my car. I have to face reality. I now go to work by public transportation. I go by Bus Rapid Transit. The convenience is no longer there like what you have when you drive your own car, but what else can one do?

“I used to take my children to school with my car, but now that’s no longer feasible. They now go via public transport. They too are feeling the economic reality. I hope things will change for the better later.”

A Lagos-based bachelor banker, Mr. Olatunde Ayinde, lamented to Saturday PUNCH that between last Saturday and Monday, he spent around N12,000 to run his V6 engine-powered Lexus SUV.

But before, he used to spend about N5,000 to fill up his car fuel tank to cruise around the city at weekends.

“Now, there is no more cruising,” he said. “My income has not increased and it will be foolish for me to keep spending such an amount on fuel alone.”

Ayinde added he was going to take the car only to church on Sundays.

He said, “I’ve parked my car in my compound now. I have promised myself to only take it to church on Sundays or maybe special functions. I may not attend every friend and family function again. To be hopping from one public bus to another is not easy. It’s not convenient. But with the new fuel price, I’m going back to public transport.

“Things are no longer easy, I must confess. Prices of foodstuff in the market have also skyrocketed. Electricity bills have gone up. Meanwhile, my salary has not been increased by my employer. So, it just doesn’t make sense to live the lifestyle I’m used to.

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“Now I have to cut down on some expenses. I don’t buy what I don’t really need these days again. It is not easy going back to an old lifestyle, but what can a man do but to adjust?”

A Lagos-based engineer, Mr. Kola Olaoluwa, bought a car for her banker wife who works on Victoria Island in January 2016, even though he has yet to have one for himself.

They live at Berger, 35 kilometres apart from Victoria Island, and the purchase of the car was to make life comfortable for her, he told Saturday PUNCH.

“I told her right from the beginning that she would be the one fuelling it. I didn’t want my wife sweating to go and come back from work every day. That’s why I bought her the car,” he said.

But the new pump price of fuel, together with the usual daily stress encountered on driving to Lagos Island, has made her wife dump her car at home and go to work via the BRT.

Olaoluwa said, “My wife usually drives her car to work on Victoria Island from Berger, but now she has started going by public transport. I am not happy about this due to the stress involved when you go to work by public transport.

“You get delayed sometimes due to the bus drivers stopping here and there. Another passenger could be carrying a bag of tomatoes or onions or pepper and be sitting beside you in a public bus. Before you know, they can stain your clothes. I have experienced this many times.

“They have stolen her phone before in a public bus alongside some money. When you look at all the downsides of public transportation, it just makes sense to have your own car, especially in a city like Lagos.

“But with this new price of fuel at N145, she has gone back to the previous lifestyle. She complained she was spending more money on fuel. It makes economic sense to me too to dump her car for now, that’s why I didn’t argue with her. She has to do other things with her money. I would have been supporting her but I’m not financially buoyant now. I just hope things get better soonest.”

Read more: Punch


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