A planned strike by the Ghana Committed Drivers Association (GCDA), a commercial drivers’ union, yesterday failed as drivers in Accra, the country’s capital, were seen operating to serve passengers.
The strike failed to make an impact because the drivers defied the industrial action declared by their leaders.
The union announced the sit-down strike in protest of the imminent introduction of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
According to the GCDA, the introduction of the BRT would disadvantage drivers as they would be denied access to pick passengers at the various bus stops along the stretches on which the BRT would operate.
The union said that with the outer lane of dual roads to be dedicated to the BRT, the lane mostly used by ‘trotros’, they would be unable to pick or drop passengers when the new transport policy takes off later this year.
During a visit to the Tema Lorry Station, in Accra, Alhaji station and Accra station lorry parks at Lapaz, and the Neoplan, Kaneshie, Odawna and Overhead lorry parks dotted around the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, it was business as usual.
Apart from the Accra station at Lapaz, which is known for its long queues in the morning, there were no queues at the other stations, monitored by this reporter.
Some drivers and drivers mates, who spoke to The Ghanaian Times, were unaware of any such industrial action.
A Ghana Private and Road Transport Union (GPRTU) official here who wanted to remain anonymous, said drivers and drivers’ mates at the station were unaware of that association.
At the Kaneshie and Odawna lorry parks at about midday yesterday, the ‘trotro’ drivers went about their duties without hindrance.
Similar actions by the association last year, over various policies in the transport sector, left many commuters stranded in Accra and Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region.
But the Greater Accra Passenger Transport Executive (GAPTE), had earlier described the planned strike as unnecessary.
The Marketing and Communications Manager of GAPTE, Mr. Roland Bruce, has told Accra based Citi FM that implementers of the RBT project, had assured that collaboration would be maintained with the transport unions to augment the transport services in the capital.
Being implemented under the Urban Transport Project, the BRT is expected to use 245 buses that would ply the Accra and Amasaman, Accra and Adentan, Accra and Tema and Accra and Kasoa routes.
President John Mahama, on his Greater Accra ‘Accounting to the People Tour’ in July, christened the BRT system “Ayalolo”, and expressed the hope that the BRT would revolutionalise the transport sector when it becomes fully operational.
Meanwhile, the organisers of the strike here accused the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) of sabotaging the action, reports Abigail Annoh.
The GCDA said the GPRTU was in bed with the government to deprive drivers of their privileges.
The Vice Chairman of the GCDA, Mr. Prince Amankwaah, in an interview with The Ghanaian Times in Accra said, “the GPRTU always sabotages us whenever we want to fight for the rights of drivers. They are in bed with this government and all they care about is the incentives they receive from them (government) and not to speak for drivers”.
The GCDA yesterday declared a nationwide strike action to protest the introduction of the RBT system.
The decision contravened calls by authorities to abandon such plans as they would collaborate with the various transport unions in implementing the RBT project.
However, Mr. Amankwaah argued that the new system would only throw drivers out of business and into abject poverty as the routes they ply for their daily income would be taken over by the RBT.
He said though the strike did not come on, the association would not relent in putting government on its toes to press home their demands.
“We want government and the GPRTU to know that we are aware of their plans but we will not sit down unconcerned to allow drivers suffer” Mr Amankwaah said.
Adding that “Though we are ending the strike, we will re-strategise and come out with our next plan of action to make sure that drivers are protected”.
By Julius Yao Petetsi