Commuters in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas of Rivers State have decried the sudden absence of COVID-19 Free Buses plying designated routes in the state.
The commuters who made their feelings known to our correspondent during an interview in Port Harcourt, said the free bus service which was introduced in June, 2020 as a palliative have since August 3, 2020 seized to operate.
According to some commuters who spoke with our reporter, the busses that had become a source of relief are no more plying the roads after barely three months, adding that with the comfort and compliance to Covid-19 Pandemic protocol, they felt safe from contacting the virus.
A House wife, Mrs. Oluchi Nsirim said the absence of the buses was affecting the masses greatly and appealed to the state government to bring back the buses.
A commuter, Mr. Preye Sunday Willimo opined that people were feeling bad about the withdrawal of the government free buses on the routes of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor, saying that it is like a deceit.
He appealed for the buses to operate to help the public, especially students and market women adding that they are willing to pay a token fare for the bus service.
A trader, Mrs. Joy Batubo said it is unfortunate that people from the onset of the free bus service were skeptical about its sustenance but regretted that as many people are getting used to the buses with compliance to Covid-19 rules, they are feeling disappointed.
She stressed that the free bus service has been helpful as it gave sense of belonging to the poor in the society and appealed to government to re-launch the scheme for the benefit of the down trodden.
A public servant, Mrs. Jannifer Levi noted that it was a relief to many people because some do not have transport fare to pay to their various offices following the hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and also enjoined government to bring back the buses for the sake of the less privileged in the society.
In his reaction, a Public Affairs Analyst, Mr. Christian Pallousi said his candid appeal was for government to bring back the COVID-19 free buses on the road as the masses it is the relief package they have gotten from government during this period.
A proprietor, Mr. Tamunobelema Owubokiri expressed that since Covid-19 is still around, the free bus services should serve as a palliative until when the state is free from the pandemic, pointing out that they are ready to pay the fare.
Meanwhile, source told our correspondent that the buses were parked to undergo maintenance work at their office at Waterlines premises, without any maintenance work being carried out.
Efforts to speak with the Commissioner for transport, Hon Samuel Ejekwu proved abortive.