Bauchi - Parents have complained that the upward review of charges at Yankari Games Reserve in Alkaleri Local Government Area of Bauchi State has prevented them from taking their children to the facility to celebrate the Eid-el-Fitr.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the management of the reserve increased the gate fees from N300 and N200 for adults and children to N5 000 and N2 500 respectively, among other charges.
Some parents told NAN in Bauchi on Monday that the increases were too much and beyond the reach of ordinary people.
"As a tradition, I always take my children to Yankari during periods of festivities. I have eight children, three of them above 17 years.
"By my calculation, I need at least N35 000 to visit Yankari with the children, as against the former N2 000. I cannot afford it," complained Adamu Muazu, a civil servant.
Amina Usman, a student of one of the tertiary institutions in the state, told NAN that she and most of her friends had wanted to spend the day after Sallah at the reserve but were taken unawares.
"We were about leaving Bauchi for Yankari when we were reminded that the gate fee had been hiked to N5 000 and we were shocked.
"We simply cancelled the trip. But for the fact that the person that drew our attention to the situation was a serious-minded fellow, we would have thought he was just trying to crack a joke," she stated.
Malam Bello Mohammed, a Gombe resident, who usually visited Yankari with his family during holidays, told NAN on telephone that he was saved the embarrassment of engaging in a futile trip by a friend.
"I called the friend to wish him happy Sallah and he enquired about my family. I told him they were fine and would be in Yankari the following day and his response was that I had enough money to waste.
"When I told him the cost implication based on my calculation, he laughed and reminded me of the hike in gate fees, which I was not aware of.
"I thanked him and cancelled the trip. But for him, we would have been at the gate only to return to Gombe, and that would have been very embarrassing," Mohammed said.
Others who spoke to NAN, pleaded with the management of the facility to have a rethink over the increase, adding that the facilities on ground did not justify the increases.
"Nothing new has been added to the facilities at the reserve to justify the over 1 500 per cent hike," Mr Emeka Chinedu, a Bauchi resident, said.
The Bauchi State Commissioner for Tourism could not be reached for comment but a member of staff of the ministry told NAN that the increases were based on a directive from the state government.
The official, who pleaded anonymity, explained that the measure was taken to check the influx of miscreants into the reserve, who often constituted themselves into a nuisance to serious-minded tourists.
Mr Ishola Michael, the Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Isa Yuguda, told NAN that there were reports of some people turning the reserve to a place for the exhibition of irresponsible behaviour.
According to him, some youths are in the habit of displaying all manners of behaviour that they will not ordinarily display in any place outside the reserve.
"Some will get drunk, exhibit all manners of unwholesome behaviour and cause accidents while driving recklessly, all to the detriment of other responsible tourists.
"There has to be a way of checking this menace and to me, those who go to Yankari in groups and constitute themselves into nuisances, will have to consider the financial implication first," he added.