Transport companies in Cross River State have announced the withdrawal of buses plying southeast states following the directives of Finland-based Biafra agitator Simon Ekpa to shut down the region for two weeks beginning from 31 July 2023.
According to the transporters, the decision became necessary after much considerations to save the lives of passengers and drivers and also prevent fighters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) from damaging their buses.
This was made known by one of the officials of a transport company in Calabar, Orji Fabian, lamented that they had lost their buses to attacks from the proscribed groups.
Fabian disclosed that due to the insecurity, passenger traffic has drastically reduced.
“We do not take the threat from Simon Ekpa’s group lightly. First, we must think of the safety of our passengers, our drivers, and of course, our buses.
“It would be insensitive to deliberately expose lives and our business to avoidable risks. Therefore, we are seriously looking at avoiding that route on that 31st July 2023,” he said.
Furthermore, Fabian said their transport operations, like their competitors, have witnessed a lull.
“Removal of fuel subsidy which has astronomically raised prices of every item in the country is the major cause. Insecurity in the southeast part of the country is another scare.
“We now have lesser numbers of buses plying our normal routes. Frequently, due to fewer travelers traffic, we no longer depart on schedule.
“There has been a drastic reduction in passengers traffic in most of our departing points, not only in the state.
“We now ply fewer routes with very few passengers. Often, too, we delay as a way waiting to see if more passengers will show up later.”
He said that the hyperinflation has affected not only their company but other transporters.
He, however, stated that his company may not lay off their staff who are finding it difficult to grapple with the fewer resources at their disposal.
As a way of helping themselves out, he appealed that the federal government should help to restore the fuel subsidy, which he claimed was the only benefit the common people were enjoying from the government.
He feared that corrupt government officials would corner the subsidy removed and will, therefore, not serve desired purposes by the government.
He, however, acknowledged that following the end of school terminal sessions, a handful of students have been booking to travel, adding that there used to be an upsurge in passengers traffic before now.
Meanwhile, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, Zone 9 Umuahia, Echeng Echeng has said that he prepared to fight illegal sit-at-home orders in the South-East geopolitical zone, kidnapping, armed robbery, etc. He spoke when he visited Governor Nwifuru of Ebonyi State.
He called on all governors in the southeast to cooperate to enable the security agencies to nip in the bud the unrest and fears caused by hoodlums.
Police PRO Irene Ugbo in Cross River State said there was no need for people to be afraid as the security agencies are fully in charge of the situation, urging transporters not to suspend operations.