19 February 2013

Ghana: Transport Unions Warn Drivers Over Exorbitant Fares

Kumasi — PASSENGERS AND some commercial drivers yesterday engaged in the usual confrontation over new fare charges, following the increases in petroleum products last Sunday.

Commuters and commercial drivers plying major roads like Kejetia to Tafo, Kejetia to Tech (KNUST), Atonsu to Roman Hill, Kejetia to Abuakwa and other places were reported to have squared off over arbitrary fares on the part of commercial drivers, which usually occur anytime there is an increase in fuel prices.

Most passengers, according to information, refused to pay the new fares which were being charged by drivers and conductors for reasons that those fares had not been sanctioned by the Ghana Road Transport Coordinating Council (GRTCC).

In some places, the verbal confrontation turned into physical brawls, some of which had to be intervened by onlookers and police officers.

On the Kejetia-Tafo road for instance, the addition of 10Gp to the existing 40Gp became a bone of contention between passengers and drivers as the former complained that the addition is on the higher side.

According to some passengers, the drivers ought to have increased the fare by just 5Gp because in the previous occasion when fuel prices were increased, the drivers arbitrarily increased the fare from 30p to 40Gp, even though they were instructed to add just 5p to make it 35Gp.

Other minor incidents were also reported in areas like Abuakwa, Atonsu, Barekese and others as passengers called on various radio stations on Monday morning complaining about exorbitant fares.

Meanwhile, some transport operators have attributed the perennial situation to the refusal on the part of some commercial drivers to join a recognized union.

The National Vice Chairman of the Commercial Drivers Association (CDA), Alhaji Iddrissu Lawal, argues that the situation will continue to exist unless drivers who operate free range, known in local parlance as "Waawaa" are compelled to join a transport union.

He contended that under no circumstance will a driver who joins a recognized union engage in charging arbitrary fares which have not been sanctioned by his mother union.

Alhaji Lawal, however, said the CDA had warned all its members to abide by the approved fares issued by the GRTCC in order to avoid any altercation with passengers.

He told The Chronicle in an interview that drivers of the CDA who operate in areas like Dunkwa, Berekum, Tarkwa and other places outside the region have been warned against extorting passengers.

The CDA National Vice Chairman, therefore, cautioned that any driver who acts in contravention with the order will be sanctioned and severely dealt with by the association.

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