Following increased attacks by robbers on various routes across the country, long distance luxury bus operators have advised their passengers to always avoid boarding the vehicles with huge cash in order not to tempt the criminals.
Rather than carry large sums of money on them, especially during night journeys, intending passengers should take advantage of the various means of transferring money electronically and keep just enough to take care of their travel expenses.
|Passengers at a luxury bus terminal. Courtesy of Quick News Africa.
The luxury bus operators who spoke through the managers of some leading luxury bus transport firms at the popular Upper Iweka in Onitsha, Anambra state, enjoined the travelers to embrace the use of drafts and various e-banking innovations, including automated teller machine (ATM), point of sale (POS) and other internet-enabled platforms in their transactions.
According to the spokesman of the managers’ forum, Tony Ogbonna, the enlightenment campaign became necessary due to the frequent cases of armed robbery involving luxury buses lately, especially at night, which result in human and material losses to both the passengers and the transporters.
“This is not restricted to any particular route. Our buses plying Abuja-Lagos or going to the east from Abuja; those playing Lagos-Shagamu-Ore-Benin-Onitsha-Port Harcourt; and those on Aba-Onitsha-Lagos route, are all targeted by the robbers who are usually merciless in their attacks”, Ogbonna said.
Last year, the umbrella union of long distance bus transporters, Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria (ALBON) counselled the public on the need to always travel cashless, enjoining them to avail themselves of new methods in modern banking in their transactions to avoid being easy preys to the robbers.
The association had lamented that regardless of its preventive measures, like discouraging passengers from boarding with excess cash, the criminals had continued to lay siege on members’ vehicles on the erroneous assumption that passengers, particularly traders, were still in the habit of travelling with a lot of money in their possession.
Interestingly, the association’s statement clearly informed the gangsters of the transporters’ no-cash policy, adding: “So, it will be foolhardy and an exercise in futility for any robber to attack any luxury bus nationwide with the sole aim of getting large sums of money from the passengers in such a bus”.
However, at the Otto, Lagos terminal of one of the popular transport firms, the manager lamented that despite all the efforts to make the buses and their passengers less attractive to the robbers, the incident has continued up till yesterday (last week). He said the various transport firms were worried that the robberies had increased in frequency and viciousness.
He, therefore, recommended increased security on the highways to arrest the situation.
Echoing this call, Ogbonna said: “Effective patrol of the highways, both day and night, is one sure way of at least curbing the menace of the robbers. We are appealing to the Federal Government to come to the rescue of the transporters and travellers by specially equipping and deploying patrol teams to the nation’s highways for day and night anti-crime operations.”
The manager would not agree that the ultimate solution is to stop night trips, arguing that it remains a very convenient way for many traders and even workers to travel due to the time it saves them. “Many of the passengers get to their destinations early in the morning, transact their businesses, and enter night buses again back to base, thereby saving a lot of time”.
Stating that overnight journeys are common in many parts of the world, he further argued that if the security agencies would do a good job of effectively patrolling the roads, more Nigerians would prefer night journeys, “because it is also cool and the roads are clear with little or no traffic”.