Taxi drivers in Calabar have defied the order by the Cross River Government to carry only two passengers at a time to stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the state.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent on Tuesday went round the city to ascertain the level of compliance and spoke with some taxi drivers.
NAN reports that taxi drivers were still going about their normal business of carrying two passengers in the front seat and four passengers at the back, bringing the total to six passengers.
A driver simply known as Etuk said that the order was impossible to be carried out in the state.
He said that most of the drivers that were involved in commercial transportation business in the state did that with Hire Purchase vehicles and the owners of the vehicles were not interested in what the government was saying.
According to him, all the owners want is their weekly money as agreed.
He said: “All the owners want is their money as agreed with the driver from the beginning.
“So, how do we meet up with payment if we pick only two passengers per trip? How do we maintain the vehicle, fuel them, buy tickets and meet up with the agreed amount with the owners of the vehicles?’’
Another taxi driver, Mr Asuquo Edem, said it was not enough to just give orders, the state government should look at how practicable these orders were.
“People have been ordered to stay at home meaning that the number of passengers have reduced drastically.
“Yet, you are telling a taxi driver who hardly sees two passengers because of the lockdown to carry just two when he has mouths to feed at home. How will they survive?
“If we must carry just two passengers at a time, it means the transport fares would be increased but how many residents of Cross River are ready to pay with the present economic situation.
“It is not enough to ask people to stay at home or taxi drivers to carry only two passengers, the state government must endeavour to understand the plight of the people while making laws for the benefit of all,’’ Edem said.
NAN reports that on March 24, the Cross River Government in a statement ordered that all taxi drivers must not carry more than two passengers at a time, while tricycle (keke) operators should carry one passenger at a time.
The statement also ordered commercial transport operators to purchase hand sanitiser at the office of the Transport Management and Regulatory Agency. (NAN)