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Transporters flay fuel price increase, lament Onitsha Bridge gridlock

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By Phil Okose, Onitsha

The chairman of Upper Iweka/Asaba route of the Bus Drivers Welfare Association, under the umbrella, Urban Bus Drivers Welfare Association (UDWAAS), Mr. Sunday Ogoegbunam, has expressed dismay at the recent increase in the price of petroleum motor spirit, PMS, as recently announced by the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, and described it as untimely.

Ogoegbunam said the increase was untimely because Nigerians were yet to recover from the more than seven-month lockdown in the course of the effort to curtail the spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.

He called for a reverse of the increase, stressing that Nigerians had sacrificed enough in the interest of the country, tracing the sacrifice right from 1985 up to 1993, the days of the former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, when the federal military government introduced the controversial Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).

In another vein, the union leader also drew attention to the continued traffic gridlock experienced at the Onitsha end of the River Niger Bridge which, according to him, is now a source of worry to travellers plying the Onitsha/Asaba/Benin/Lagos expressway. The gridlock has, of recent, been observed to extend to the Upper Iweka axis of the city.

Speaking to newsmen in Onitsha during the week, the transporters and travellers lamented the long hours they had been made to spend crossing that inter zonal and inter-state bridge which links the south south and south east zones of the country.

In Ogoegbunam’s words, “we call on the federal government to persuade the contractor handling the 2nd Niger Bridge, Julius Berger, to expedite action on the bridge to help decongest the traffic gridlock we experience on daily basis.”

He, however, commended both the federal government and the construction firm for displaying patriotism and competence on the project. He explained that the frequent traffic jam experienced by motorists on the expressway had heightened the need to complete the said 2nd Niger Bridge project in record time.

The transporter said that commercial bus drivers were most hit by the situation given the revenue losses to them as expected returns to the bus owners after close of work has decreased drastically.

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