Ghana: Commercial Drivers, Passengers Tango Over New Transport Fares

Commercial drivers yesterday began charging new fares following the increment of petroleum products at the pumps on Monday by the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs)

The increment of the fares by the commercial drivers comes less than 72 hours after a 19-percent fare increase went into effect on Saturday following an agreement reached with the Ghana Road Transport Coordinating Council and the government.

Petrol and diesel prices are going for an average of GH¢18 and GH¢23 per litre from the previous prices of GH¢15 and GH¢19 per litre respectively.

Yesterday’s sudden increment in fares was met with mixed reactions from drivers and their mates on one side and passengers on the other, a situation which resulted in heated exchanges between the parties.

The situation also resulted in hurling of insults and name calling on almost all the commercial vehicles on which passengers were asked to pay the new fares.

During a visit to the Odawna Taxi Rank at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in Accra, the Ghanaian Times found out that passengers were being charged GH¢30.00 from circle to Tema, which used to be GH¢25.00 three days earlier.

Circle to Tema Harbour now becomes GH¢35 instead of GH¢30 while the fare from Circle to Ashaiman now is GH¢30 instead of GH¢25.

Passengers commuting on the most popularly used mini-buses, otherwise known as ‘trotros’, from the Town Council Line to Circle were parting with GH¢4.00 instead of GH¢3.60 in less than 24 hours.

Passengers were being charged GH¢6.00 from Lapaz to Circle which used to be GH¢5.00 after the 19-percent increment last week.

The situation was the same with other places the Ghanaian Times visited.

Meanwhile, the OA Travel and Tour and other long distance travel agencies and commercial transport branches at Circle were yet to review their fares.

Foster Gyamara, a bookman at the Odaw Taxi Station of the Ghana Private Road Transport Unionof the Trades Union Congress, Circle, said the increment had become necessary to keep drivers in business.

“The drivers are the most affected in these times. They make very little profit from what is being charged after making extra expenses like paying a loading fee at the station,” he said.

“It is therefore imperative that the government should remove some of the taxes on petroleum products to ease the burden of both drivers and commuters,” he added.

A porter at the Nkawkaw station at Circle who gave his name only as Eric said the government had to as a matter of urgency ease the burden of Ghanaians as he could hardly earn anything at the end of the day.

He stressed that strain on the economy in the last two months was unbearable, adding that “I sleep here so I can work 24 hours but I still earn very little unlike before.”

Ms Akua Birch, a commuter said she had stopped using her car because of the constant increment of prices of petroleum products.

However, Mr Patrick Agyekum, Assistant Manager, OA Travel and Tour, Circle said they were yet to review their fares, adding that what had worsened the woes of Ghanaians are the market women who taken advantage of the country’s present economic heckles and were exploiting Ghanaians.

He also called on the government to stop the depreciating cedi and initiate measures to cushion Ghanaians.

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