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FG urge citizens to ride bicycles as transport

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By Mercy Kelani

Citizens react to this announcement, citing related challenges.

The Federal Government told Nigerians to alternate bicycles for transportation due to the inflation in the price of petrol. Musa Ibrahim, Director of Road Transport and Mass Transit Administration in the Federal Ministry of Transportation, highlighted the significance of cycling as a means of transport in a sensitisation meeting that was held in Abuja. He stated that a transition to bicycles will promote a cleaner environment and curb road traffic crashes, affirming that the meeting was in alignment with the World Bicycle Day that was celebrated on June 3rd.

He noted the versatility, longevity and uniqueness of the bicycle as a clean, reliable, affordable, simple and environmentally fit sustainable transport that enhances health and environmental stewardship. Ibrahim added that cycling promotes sustainable development, good health and eradicates poverty. Joshua Adekanye, Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Oyo State, implored Nigerians to shift to cycling to reduce the effect of fuel subsidy removal; similar to Ibrahim’s focus on the health and environmental benefits of this system.

Cost of transportation in the country increased by 50%.

Adekanye said that cycling is cheap and economical because motorcycles and cars are expensive. In Nigeria, the removal of fuel subsidy and the inflation of fuel price has led to high cost of transportation. Initially, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) accelerated the fuel pump price in June from less than N200 to over N500 per litre, and consequently increased it in July to N617. The cost of transportation in most parts of the country increased by at least 50 percent. From ICIR report, commercial vehicle drivers suffered from poor patronage as many residents resort to trekking long distances as a means of reducing the cost of transport fares.

Public transportation are mostly used now by many car owners for mobility. A resident in Abuja, Musa Ibrahim, who lives in Life Camp area, Abuja, asserted that he stayed indoors due to the hike in fuel prices, unless there is an important trip. He added that he uses public transport more rather than driving his car, depending on the distance. Other residents told the ICIR that the hike in petrol price could encourage Nigerians to leave the country in search for a better country to live in. This is related to the street language popularly referred to as “Japa”.

There are side effects and associated stresses of cycling.

Furthermore, he said that it is disheartening and difficult to arrive at such increase in percentage on the amount of PMS that has led to increase in the cost of goods in the market. Victoria Ani, a resident, said that she will not stop using her car but she might consider selling the car and ditch Nigeria, “Japa”, if the situation worsens. The federal government made an announcement that there was a drop in the monthly fuel usage in the country by 18.5 million litres in less than two months after removal of fuel subsidy.

Residents of FCT are not certain of the practicability of the recommendation, despite suggestions for the use of bicycles rather than cars and motorcycles by the Federal Government. Another resident in Abuja, James Emmanuel who has a bicycle, stated that there are more dangers and risks from riding a bicycle. According to him, the risk of road accidents by riding it on the same highways as other cars and vehicles due to the speed used by the drivers is inevitable. Apparently, there are other sides effects or cited stress of cycling, such as possible harassment from traffic officials and time involvement. With this, cycling as a means of transportation is not certain to work effectively in the country.

Motorcycles were banned in 2022, last year, by FCTA.

Mustapha Usman, a resident in FCT, asserted that there is no provision for bicycle lane in the country, while many other residents in FCT are doubting the use of bicycles in the city along the highways with more vehicles due to the ban placed on many vehicles from plying major roads. The FCT Ministerial Task Team on Free Flow of Traffic and the Department of Road Traffic Services (DRTS) also enforced a ban on tricycles along highways in Abuja, 2019. Motorcycles were also banned in 2022 by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), while 432 motorcycles were seized and crushed. Hence, this incident led to a protest in Abuja. The ICIR contacted the FCTA Deputy Director on Mass Transit, Okey Nwaegbu, on the provision of bicycles, but there was no response from him.

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