The containment imposed by the health authorities in Gabon has increased the cost of land transport, especially for interurban travel. A situation denounced by many Gabonese.
The coronavirus pandemic has not ceased to impact the daily lives of people on the continent. In Gabon, the health crisis has inflated the costs of transport between the country’s major cities.
“I don’t want to talk, but I understand your question”. Visibly tense after long hours of waiting, Jérôme Bibalou finally leaves Libreville, the Gabonese capital for Lambaréné, in the center of the country.
Like other users who crane at the PK8 bus station, he negotiated his transport ticket. For about three months, times have changed: first come, first served.
With the partial containment of Libreville and its suburbs, which restricts travel between the capital and other localities in the interior of the country, it is no longer possible to travel, except for family or professional emergencies. Even these cases are subject to the harsh reality on the ground.
Transportation costs have soared.
“For a one-way trip, I usually pay 7,000 CFA francs on the Libreville-Lambaréné line. Today, you have to have 25,000 francs for the same destination. We have no choice”, explains the disillusioned air, Théophile Nze, a civil servant on duty in Lambaréné, a town 300 km from Libreville.
Very few buses travel long distances. it is therefore difficult for the young Paul Mikielou to go to Lebamba, in the deep south of Gabon. “I’ve been trying vehicles for 4 days. Containment has blocked me in Libreville. I’ve been stuck since mid-March”, he says to VOA Africa.
Since travel agency activities are prohibited, the crisis situation benefits individuals for a service offer which is, however, far below customer expectations.
Armand Ngoma, a driver at the PK8 bus station, explains the inflation of land transport costs because “At the time of confinement, there are very few vehicles serving the lines of the interior of the country.”
In mid-May, an angry Internet user decried what for him constitutes a “scam”: “The Bitam-Oyem journey which once cost 2,500 CFA francs now amounts to 5,000 F. To reach Libreville from Bitam, you now have to pay 40,000 FCFA whereas before the barrier measures, the price was negotiated at 12,000 FCFA “, we read on Facebook.
This criticized situation is further supported by the absence of a legal framework clearly establishing the exercise of the land transport activity in this period of health crisis.