As commuters want services improved
The National Transit Authority, the state-owned company running the public buses, is gaining momentum for boosting the transport in Nimba in the midst of the deadly COVID-19, which has paralyzed the national and global economies alike.
During the course of the erstwhile national lockdown and the public health emergency restrictions on the movement of people, which also banned the public bus from plying, the cost of transportation from Ganta to Monrovia spiked as high as about L$4,000 on commercial taxis, carrying up to four persons.
Since the lockdown and the state of emergency were lifted, taxis are yet to bring the transport fares back to the pre-COVID level, which was L$800 per person, with at least six persons on board, rather the fares still linger between L$1,200 and L$1,500.
But the resumption of the NTA buses on traffic in mid-June 2020, with the fare of L$450 per person aboard a sixty-seater bus brought great relief to the citizens, making the NTA terminal to be crowded daily with commuters, who came from everywhere across Nimba and beyond to board the buses as soon as possible.
Currently, the NTA has dispatched about five buses on the Ganta-to-Monrovia route daily, yet the passenger demand remains high. Many are calling on the NTA management to increase the number of buses and extend operation into the evening hours.
Other conditions the commuters want the management to improve include the introduction of modern standard where tickets are sold prior to the arrival of the buses, with the time of departure indicated as well as the identity of the bus (e.g. bus #1 or #2).
“If this standard is put in place, it will reduce overcrowding of the parking station, because the passengers will know when they will be leaving and on which bus they will be boarding,” said Rita Nenpertay, a commuter. “For the cheapness of the bus, we take a risk by coming to the parking as early as 3am to pick numbers and it sometimes puts at risk with criminals at that hour,” she added.
Most of the commuters hailed the NTA for the services provided, but want robust improvement of the terminal and ensure security on the buses.
There are three transport unions operating in Nimba County, including the Federation of Road Transport Union (FRTUL), the ECOWAS Transport and the Mano River Transport Union (MRTU), but these unions are plying cars on the same fares, beside the cargo or other items belonging to the passengers.
“These buses are really helping us with this transportation issue, and we thank the government ever so much, but [we] want the system to be improved, so we will not be coming here soon in morning with children hanging over us,” said an elderly woman with three children.
However, the NTA agent in Nimba, Thomas Kollie, told this paper that the management is doing all it can to improve its services in Nimba and the country at large.
“By dry season, we are contemplating to extending services to Sanniquellie and other places in Nimba as well as Grand Gedeh, where we were running, but stopped because of the road,” he said.
Mr. Kollie warned commuters to behave orderly on the bus, and they will not hesitate to stop anyone who misbehaves on the bus from continuing their journey.