18 Dec Nigeria: Skyrocketing Transportation Costs Shift Focus: Goods and Food Items Outpace Holiday Travel
By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria
As the holiday season unfolds, a noticeable shift in travel patterns has emerged due to the exorbitant cost of transportation. While Christmas usually sees a surge in individuals embarking on journeys, this year, the focus has shifted towards transporting goods and food items rather than people.
Traditionally a time for celebration, Christmas involves the exchange of gifts and showcases personal achievements. However, both transporters and business people seize the opportunity to inflate fares and prices during this festive period.
The prevailing economic challenges in the country have altered this usual dynamic. Reduced cash flows and stringent withdrawal limits imposed by banks have left the public in a quandary. Unstable networks further hinder online financial transactions, compounding the challenges faced by the banking public.
This economic downturn has led to a significant decrease in the bustling crowds typically seen at inter-state bus terminals, particularly in Lagos. Instead, there is a notable increase in individuals utilizing the services of haulage departments to send packaged items through waybills to their loved ones.
In conversations with individuals in different parts of Lagos, it became evident that many find it more economically viable to send food items or goods through waybill than to bear the high costs associated with transporting their families. Mrs. MaryAnn Edebor, a regular December traveler, shared her predicament of canceling her annual trip due to the prohibitive cost of transportation and foodstuff.
On the contrary, sending two bags of rice and 25 liters of groundnut oil through waybill, costing only N12,000, presented a more sensible economic choice for her. This sentiment was echoed by others, emphasizing the practicality of utilizing waybill services in light of financial constraints.
Mr. Chima Nwuzor, faced with the need to travel to Ghana for an international event, highlighted the economic rationale behind choosing road travel over air transport. He explained that the N65,000 road trip cost was more favorable than the significantly higher expense of flying.
Insights from a manager of a transport company revealed that the current season had been anticipated, with fewer passengers opting for travel compared to the previous year. The surge in waybill services for goods over passengers is attributed to the skyrocketing transport fares, reaching as high as N35,000 to N40,000.
In response to these economic challenges, some transport companies have sold off buses as a measure to cope with reduced demand. The influx of passengers, a common sight in previous years, has dwindled, leaving terminals filled with goods awaiting waybill rather than people embarking on festive travels.
This shift in travel dynamics underscores the impact of economic conditions on holiday traditions, compelling individuals to reconsider their travel plans and opt for more cost-effective alternatives.