Following the Nigerian government’s failure to make payment, the buses carrying some Nigerian students hoping to flee the war-torn Sudan have come to a stop in the desert a few hours’ drive from the capital Khartoum.
Despite the Nigerian government’s insistence that it spent $1.2 million to hire buses to transport stranded citizens from Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, to Egypt, from which they would be airlifted to Nigeria, the Sudanese logistics company is threatening to abandon the students in the desert for non-payment.
On Wednesday afternoon, five buses carrying Nigerian students in Sudanese colleges departed from a muster point, but the buses allegedly broke down before they reached the Egyptian border.
“The drivers that parked said they won’t move an inch if they are not paid. Their company told them not to move further. It’s a directive from their company,” a student said.
The number of stranded students could be as many as 250, each of the buses has a reported capacity of 50 passengers.
A stranded evacuee said: “From the way they talk, it is obvious that we are not far from the border. We don’t know if they will dump us there or take us back to Khartoum.”
“We are stranded in the desert in five buses. No internet, nothing.”
The distance from the capital to the border is over 1,000 kilometres. Contact with the lost pupils has been challenging because they are in a remote desert region with scant mobile phone reception.
The number of students still present on the International University of Africa campus, where the buses left, is estimated to be between 2 and 3,000.
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