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Unsafe Roads, Inflated Airfares: Agonies Of Nigerians In Yuletide

Every year, as the holidays of Christmas, New Year, and everything in between approach, Nigeria’s inter-state roads become busier as people rush home to spend time with families and friends.

But, lately, many who wished to travel could not do so. One, highways have become unsafe in some parts of the country. And then, air travel has also become significantly less affordable.

Many local travellers across the major cities have expressed disappointment over the increase in ticket prices during the yuletide period.

Emmanuel Ocheme, who was to travel from Lagos to Makurdi en route Abuja with an Air Peace flight, told HumAngle he had to cancel his trip because his budget could not accommodate the current price. 

Others in his shoes also  explained that they preferred to travel by air due to the reported cases of insecurity experienced on the highways. They were, however, disappointed by the recent hike.

“The high rate of kidnapping and insecurity on the road made a lot of people to choose to travel by air, but the fee is not friendly,” lamented Kabiru Ashiru, a resident of Yankaba, Nasarawa Local Government Area, and a frequent traveler.

“Last week I paid N85,000 from Kano to Abuja, which is very high. I don’t have any choice but to pay to avoid being a victim of kidnapping.”

Speaking to HumAngle as he made his way to the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano State, Aminu Ibrahim said he relied on air travel because of the operations of terrorists as well as the poor condition of roads that often lead to accidents.

“Traveling by air is not easy as the cost is too high and it has doubled almost times three compared to the initial price. But passengers have no option than to pay, especially because it is festive time and people have to travel,” he said. 

Tosin Balogun, a resident of Bompai, Kano State, told this paper he has shelved plans to travel, citing poor security of roads and hikes in both bus and air fares.

Sudden Increase In Airfares

Ticket prices were reported to have doubled around the first week of December, with one-way economy tickets previously averaging N33,000 rising to about N75,000. Many stakeholders believe this to be the highest hike in ticket prices in years.

“Aviation stakeholders, however, said unless the Federal Government bailed out the local industry and avail a special forex window for local and foreign operators, airfares might continue to spike and become unbearable for the travelling public in the festive season,” reported Guardian Newspaper. 

“In the interim, they have advised travellers to make their travel bookings ahead of time to get a fairer deal.”

Sources said the airfares for local travels increased due to changes in exchange rates. 

This was confirmed by the station manager of Max Air, Kehinde Ogunyele, who recently blamed the USD to naira exchange rate and an increase in the demand for tickets for the development. 

Other reasons identified include the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown during which flights were temporarily stopped,  shortage of operating equipment, increased price of aviation fuel, and high costs of aircraft maintenance.

“The exchange rate of the dollar has a big impact in the aviation industry because everything we do have dollar component because spares are acquired with foreign exchange, we pay for insurance in dollars because local insurance companies do not have the capacity to insure aircraft fully, so it is expected that tickets will be very expensive,” explained Chief Executive Officer of Aero Contractors, Ado Sanusi.

“As we move on there will come a time when there will be no aircraft seats because fewer aircraft will be flying. So currently there is high demand but low capacity; obviously the basic law of supply and demand will apply. The price of tickets will also increase because of the high foreign exchange, as dollar is now being exchanged for N500, so we expect a disproportionate increase in the price of tickets.”

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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