By Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
The Government of Ekiti State has declared war against the hike in prices of goods and services, with a charge on transport unions and other relevant groups to make a downward review in the prices of goods and services.
The State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, in a meeting with leaders of transport unions and other stakeholders in Ado-Ekiti, on Sunday, expressed surprise at the sudden and rapid increase in transport fare and prices of commodities in the State.
At the meeting were leaders and representatives of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Pick-up and Lorry Association of Nigeria (PLAN), Okada Riders Association, Tricycle Riders Association, National Association of Cooperative Transport and Tipper Riders Association.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Hon Biodun Omoleye, Governor Fayemi said the meeting was in demonstration of Government’s concern over skyrocketing prices in transport fare which has impacted negatively on the prices of products and services in the State compared to what is obtainable in neighbouring States.
The Governor gave an instance of the transport fare of less than 45 kilometres, Ado-Ekiti to Akure, the State Capital of Ondo State, which used to be N500 now between N1,400 to N1,500 whereas transport fare of a similar distance between Akure to Owo in Ondo State still goes for N500.
He said: ‘The Government is worried about the high cost of prices of goods and services in Ekiti State and has directed that a cross-section of stakeholders in the various groups be invited for dialogue of which the transport sector is a very crucial sector among the stakeholders and that’s why we are starting with them.
‘You will recollect that in the last few weeks there have been cries by commuters that transport fare within the State is prohibitive. Examples were cited that Akure before use to be N500 gradually it went to N700 and now is between N1400 to N1500 a distance less than 45 kilometres.
‘Similarly we observed that in Ondo State, Akure and Owo township which is also 45 kilometres is still N500 while Akure to Ondo is under N500, so we find no justification in price hike in Ekiti State, particularly Ado metropolis.
‘If you are travelling between Ado-Ekiti and Abuja, it ranges now between N6500 and N7000, while in Akure, for instance, it is less than N4000. Whatever is the cause of hike in transport fare in Ekiti is worrisome to Government.’
The situation, according to the Governor had affected other sectors of the economy resulting in an increase in the price of goods and services which has placed a burden of hardship on the people of the State.
Expressing the readiness of Government to crash the prices of commodities in the State, Fayemi assured that a task force comprising representatives of various economic sectors would be constituted to monitor and regulate the prices of commodities across the State.
While promising that Government would not fail in performing its statutory responsibility in creating and sustaining a business-friendly environment, the Governor, stressed that anyone that failed to comply with government’s regulations to make life comfortable for the people of the State would be sanctioned accordingly.
He disclosed that a further meeting had been slated for Monday evening to enable the leadership of the transport unions to meet with their members and resolve downward review of transport fare across the State.
He said: ‘We want to assure the people of the State that Government is on top of this prohibitive cost of transportation and we have declared an emergency in the commodity and service prices for now in Ekiti. We hope that in the next five days, this high cost would be resolved for the good of all.’
Earlier, The State Chairman of Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Ekiti State chapter, Olanbiwonninu Rotimi, and others who spoke on behalf of their unions said the hike in Petroleum product, vehicle spare parts and the COVID-19 guidelines that restricted commercial vehicles from operating in full capacity were responsible for the hike in transport fare.
They lamented that proceeds from trips embarked upon by transporters barely cover the cost of purchasing fuel if they don’t operate in full capacity.
Others at the meeting were the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon Funminiyi Afuye represented by the Deputy Speaker, Hon Hakeem Jamiu, Commissioner for Information and Values Orientation, Barr Akin Omole, Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Aare Muyiwa Olumilua, Ado Local Government Chairperson, Mrs Omotunde Fajuyi, Senior Special Assistant on Community Engagement and Enlightenment, Chief (Mrs) Tosin Ajisafe-Aluko and others.