Some passengers have criticised Chisco Transport, a firm that runs interstate bus services, over their alleged ill-treatment.
One of the passengers, Jerry Douglas, who spoke with our correspondent, said efforts to reach the company to provide an alternative bus proved abortive as it allegedly shunned appeals from the passengers, who were forced to pass the night in the cold.
According to Douglas, the passengers did not get to their various destinations until three days after, adding that he had to spend Christmas in hospital as his son took ill.
He stated, “I bought tickets for my wife, kid and I around noon on Monday; the actual fare we saw on the firm’s website was N9,000 per passenger, but on getting to the Jibowu terminus, the lady at the counter said the fare was N13,000 and I bought three tickets and went back home.
“We got to the terminus around 6pm because the departure time was 7pm, but as of 9pm, there was no bus in sight. The bus arrived around some minutes past 9pm and passengers questioned the condition of the vehicle, because it was not looking good and the tickets that we bought indicated that the bus was fully air-conditioned.
“The company insisted that that was the bus that would convey us and the passengers refused to board it, but later some boarded and when I asked for a refund, I was told that there was not going to be a refund; so, we had no choice but to join the bus.
“Just after the Redemption Camp around the Sagamu interchange, the bus stopped moving and when we asked the driver, he could not give us any explanation; he just said there was a fault and that he wanted to see what he could do. That was the last we saw of him around 12am until he resurfaced around 5am.
“When he came back, we asked him why he left us on the road in the middle of the night without any explanation or apology, but he only told us to wait for another bus that was coming. We waited for a while and when we did not see any bus, we went to the Sagamu Police Station to report and the driver was arrested.
“When we got to the station, we found out that the driver had been communicating with the wrong person as he did not inform the manager. When we called the manager to tell him our plight, he apologised and promised to do something, but we did not hear from him again until the police called and told him that their driver would spend the night at the station if the firm did not provide another bus for us.
“That was when someone called me around 10am that another bus was on its way to convey us and when the bus came, it was a 25-passenger vehicle that was also not looking good, but we had no choice.
“At that point, the passengers with bigger luggage were screened out from following the bus, because the driver said he could not carry more than the weight of the bus; so, the other passengers had to stay back.
“We left Sagamu for Aba but we had to make stopovers to either put water in the vehicle’s radiator or do some other things every 30 minutes. The driver managed the bus to their terminus in Owerri, where another bus was provided to convey us to Aba. Immediately we got to Aba around 1am on December 25, 2019, I had to check my son into hospital. The company made my family spend Christmas in hospital.”
Another passenger, Leonard Afobe, who had a delivery to make in Calabar, Cross River State, explained that he had to pay to board another vehicle after the bus broke down.
He said, “I was trying to make a delivery on time, but Chisco put us on an old vehicle after paying to be conveyed by a new bus. I paid N13,000 for each of the three tickets I bought and I paid for the goods that I was going to deliver.
“I was supposed to deliver the goods on December 25, but the bus disappointed and the owner of the goods said I must find the means of getting them to him. I was going to Calabar but I decided to get to Aba first before taking a chartered vehicle to my final destination, but the vehicle did not get far before it stopped.
“The company knew that the vehicle was not good but it purposely brought it out to convey us so as to collect money from us. Chisco made me to spend extra N120,000 to convey the goods to Calabar. I want the company to refund the money that I used to charter another vehicle.”
Our correspondent learnt that after the passengers’ ordeal went viral on the social media, the Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Babatunde Irukera, engaged the senior executives of Chisco Transport, who promised to compensate the affected passengers.
But the passengers told our correspondent that all efforts to get the firm to compensate them had proved abortive.
Douglas said, “I was told to come on January 1, 2020, and when I got there, I was told that the firm would get back to me, which it never did; and when I did not hear from Chisco again, I called and I was told that the head of operations had approved a refund for the passengers and I was told to get in contact with him, which I did.
The company’s Head of Operations, Ferguson Emmanuel, however, said he had approved the refund of some of the passengers and forwarded the approval to the accounting department for payment.
When Douglas was contacted, he confirmed that he received an alert on Tuesday for the refund of the three tickets he bought, but Afobe said he had yet to receive a refund from the company.