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Fuel scarcity: Off-campus varsity students groan, skip classes - TEAM PLATO REPORTS

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Fuel scarcity: Off-campus varsity students groan, skip classes 

Students of higher institutions across the country who are not living on campus are having a rough time commuting to school from home because of the scarcity of petroleum products that has led to high transport fares.

The situation has also led to some of the students missing or skipping classes, a check by Vanguard has revealed.

For students who live on campus, moving from one point to the other, especially in institutions with more than one campus, has not been easy as well, as intra and inter campus vehicles are finding it difficult to get fuel to operate, leading to the students trekking long distances.

In Lagos for instance, students of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, who live off campus, have to pay transport fares that have doubled to get to Yaba to connect buses to take them to the Akoka Main Campus.

“I live in Ayobo area of Lagos and from Iyana ipaja, the yellow buses that used to collect N300 or N400 to Yaba, now collect between N700 and N800 per trip. Depending on the time of the day, it could be higher. From Yaba, the yellow buses that ply the Akoka campus still collect N100 because the Students Union would not agree to any increment in fare. “However, you may be on the queue for almost an hour because most of the buses have no fuel or the drivers spent the previous day searching for where to buy fuel or are on the queue in filling stations. We all know that accommodation is a big issue in Lagos as a whole and UNILAG can barely accommodate 30 percent of its students on campus,” Victor Olufemi, a 200 level education student said.

It was also found out that the transport fares from Akoka to Oyingbo and Bariga/Shomolu to Akoka have gone up by 100 percent.

Oreoluwa Grace, a Geology student of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, got a shocker at the motor park recently while returning to school from Lagos.

“I was stunned when I got to the garage and was told to pay N7,000 as transport fare from Lagos to Akure. Until recently, it was between N3,000 and N3,500. I called my Mom from the park and she simply said I should just board the vehicle as I had no choice. Because I live off campus, transportation from home to school costs me a whole lot too.

“I discussed it with my Mom when I was home during the break. I suggested that I should be given my transport fare money separately from money to feed in school. Before the break, transportation usually cost me N300 each day and I would go to school six times a week, that is N1,800 weekly. On resuming, I started spending N400 daily and now it is even worse, a ride on a bike is now between N500 and N600 from School Gate to the Faculty,” she said.

NANS reacts

Commenting on the development in a chat with Vanguard, the National President of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Comrade Usman Barambu, said the situation is becoming unbearable.

He added that fuel scarcity has also led to high cost of living.

“We will hold an emergency meeting during the week when the issue and other pressing ones would be discussed. The situation is seriously affecting students. A situation whereby students now spend a large chunk of their allowances on transport is not the best. How many parents have the capacity to give adequate money to their children and wards as allowances? They are pressed already by the economic situation,” he said.

Similarly, the Southwest Coordinator of NANS, Comrade Adejuwon Emmanuel Olatunji, called for a remedy of the situation, adding that the financial conditions that some students live under could make them become deviants.

What parents say

Parents, under the aegis of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, have called on the government to find a lasting solution to the problem of fuel scarcity in the country.

The association, through the National President, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, noted that the fuel scarcity across the country and the attendant high transport fares has made things difficult for many people, including students.

“The fuel scarcity has negatively affected many businesses and when such a thing happens, the disposable income left with many parents and guardians are affected too. If parents are under serious economic pressure, what they can give to their children and wards as allowances and money for their upkeep would be reduced too.

“Transport fares have been on the high side since the crisis began, students going to school from home are having it rough. Even at lower levels, those running primary and secondary schools are finding it hard to fuel their buses to bring students to school. We just want the government to quickly find a lasting solution to the problem, people are really stressed and they need a new lease of life,” he stated.

Flexible time table

In order to make it easier for staff and students to teach and learn under the prevailing situation, institutions are now incorporating flexibility into their schedules.

At the University of Ilorin, UNILORIN, for example, the management is boosting its capacity for virtual learning to cope with the situation.

According to the Director, Corporate Affairs, Mr. Kunle Akogun, in a statement, the management expressed pain over the transportation hardship the students and staff go through daily.

“This issue of inadequate transportation leaves many stranded every morning and evening during peak hours. Even the injection of more buses to the campus route has not achieved any tangible result as the nationwide fuel scarcity has compounded the situation, thereby rubbishing such intervention.

As part of measures to mitigate the effects of the unfortunate situation on the students especially, the management has instructed the adjustment of lecture timetable to make it more flexible. Also, we have renewed our zoom licenses to activate the virtual lecture option recently approved by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Wahab Egbewole,” the statement read.

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