Some commercial vehicle drivers and their mates in Koforidua and parts of the Eastern Region have refused to wear nose mask in contravention of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) safety protocol instituted to curb its spread in the country.
Checks by the Ghanaian Times at the lorry stations and by the roadside revealed that most of the drivers and their mates were not wearing the nose mask.
Their reason was that people could not hear them when they solicited passengers to board their vehicles.
One of the drivers, Kwamena Antwi, who was approached by the Ghanaian Times, explained that “sometimes passengers do not hear us and so we have to remove the nose mask so they can hear us very well.”
He added that wearing it and shouting made their ear hurt, hence they removed it to enable them to shout well enough to draw people’s attention to their vehicles.
Some passengers who spoke to the Ghanaian Times complained that the drivers and especially their mates refused to wear their nose masks, but spoke directly into their faces when trying to persuade them to board their vehicles.
One passenger who gave her name as Veronica Asante complained to the Ghanaian Times that the situation was worrying, especially in an era where there was a surge in cases.
Another passenger, Theophilus Addo, complained about the fact that nobody was checking the drivers and that they could be a major conduit of spread of the virus in the region if they were not made to wear their masks and abide by the safety measures.
“It seems the police and the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) leaders, as well as transport owners, have relaxed on checking these drivers and passengers. For this reason everyone is doing what he or she likes and it’s worrying,” he said.
When the Ghanaian Times approached the chairman of the local office of the GPRTU, Mr Johnson Kyereh, on the issue, he said the drivers and their mates were aware of the safety measures as they had been advised to obey them.
He said there were some who were recalcitrant, but added that the GPRTU would ensure they did the right thing by abiding by the protocol.
For his part, the Eastern Regional Commander for the Motor Traffic and Transport Directorate (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, Chief Superintendent Stephen Ahiatafu, refused to admit that the police had relaxed on their duty to enforce the wearing of nose mask.
He stated that since President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo gave the directive, the police had continued to ensure that both drivers and their mates wore the mask and abided by the safety protocol.
Chief Superintendent Ahiatafu added that the recalcitrant ones were making the work difficult, but stated that the police would continue to check the drivers.
In an interview, the Eastern Regional Manager of the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), Mr Dennis Yeribu, stated that NRSA had realised the implications of the non-adherence to the COVID-19 measures in the transportation space, adding that it could affect the quality of services expected of the public transport sector.
“We are in an unprecedented time in this country when we share a global fear about COVID-19, hence if commercial drivers and their mates refuse to wear the mask, then they put the precious lives of other Ghanaians at stake,” he said.
Mr Yeribu said his outfit would continue to do its part by making the drivers imbibe the COVID-19 education.
FROM AMA TEKYIWAA AMPADU AGYEMAN, KOFORIDUA