Abuja residents seek return of El-Rufai buses as fares rise

Residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, have called for the return of El-Rufai buses on the road to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.

The residents lamented that while the salaries of workers remain static, inflation continues to rise with the high cost of living impacting negatively on families in the capital city.

They said that Abuja, with a current population of about 3,840,000, and a 5.15 percent increase from 2022, needs more buses to ease the movement of residents.

The Ahmad El-Rufai transport system was established in 2005 by the then Minister of FCT, Nasir El-Rufai in the wake of the ban on commercial motorcycle operators popularly called ‘Okada’.

The Guardian learned that out of the 192 buses purchased by the then El-Rufai’s administration at the cost of N3.2 billion from Brazil, less than 10 percent of that amount has been recovered from the secret sale of the buses by Abuja Urban Mass Transport Co. Ltd (AUMTCO).

Further checks revealed that barely eight years after the introduction of the transit buses, the mini-buses were banned in the city centers to pave the way for the operations of high-capacity buses.

But in recent times, the mass transit buses have disappeared from the road completely. It was also discovered that a lack of maintenance culture and inability to pay drivers’ salaries were some of the reasons many of the buses were grounded.

Commuters who spoke to The Guardian, yesterday, expressed displeasure over the non-availability of government-owned buses, which would have ameliorated their pains in terms of costs and security while commuting.

A commuter, Timothy Effiong, said: “The amount of money I spend daily commuting to work is about 40 percent of my salary. The government should reintroduce those big buses.”

A businesswoman, Nky Ozoemena, said the high cost of transportation is affecting her business. She said: “Before, I spent N4,500 to transport my goods from Wuse Market to Area 1, but now I have to pay as much as N10,000 to convey my loads to my shop. It wasn’t like this when we had those big El-Rufai buses.”

Another commuter, Hajia Zubiaru, expressed worries that there is an influx of one-chance criminals operating in every nook and cranny of the FCT, attacking unsuspecting people and robbing people of their hard-earned money. She stated that such were not recorded when the big buses were operating.

When The Guardian contacted the acting Managing Director of the Abuja Urban Mass Transport Co. Ltd, Ifeoma Ihenekwu, for a reaction on the development, she declined to comment.

Source: The Guardian

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