Some commercial drivers yesterday began charging new fares, claiming their action followed increment in prices of petroleum products at the pumps on Monday by the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs)
The fresh increments come less than 72 hours after a 19 per cent fare increase that took effect on Saturday following an agreement reached with the Ghana Road Transport Coordinating Council and the government.
The new fares were not unexpected but the problem is that they were not authorized or approved as it was done in the case of those that took effect on Saturday.
We agree that the pricing system used in the oil marketing sector in the country, the Import Parity of Pricing, would not wait for negotiation before it takes effect because among other conditions the system does not allow price controls.
However, fare increases need authorisation from both the government and the transport unions.
This is important because in this country, as in some others, the pricing of fuel has both political and economic influences.
Besides, even though the drivers have all the good reasons to increase their fares, they need approval to avoid arbitrariness, cheating and fights and quarrels among drivers on one side and passengers on the other.
Already, the hullabaloo regarding the Saturday increments has not died down and even though we do not call for complete price control with regard to fares, a semblance of it will be appropriate.
Currently, fares are increased by approved percentages and some margins the transport unions add, which attract no opposition if they are not large.
However, some drivers and their mates demand and collect arbitrary fares, which incur the displeasure of the public.
Examples of new fares being charged from certain points to others show an average of 20 per cent increase over the Saturday ones.
Already, drivers charged more than the 19 per cent for the Saturday increments and so any new increments done without approval, in which case there is haphazardness and arbitrariness, will go against the suffering public beyond reasonable expectations.
This is obvious because drivers will exact new charges for goods as well and the result is increases in prices of food in particular.
What that obviously means is that it will not be surprising that sooner than later some workers would have to walk to work or find excuses to absent themselves.
Workers in both the public and private sectors have not had their salaries increased and so employers should be prepared for the unexpected, including unbridled agitations.
Private sector employers are likely to lay off some workers if they agitate for pay increments but that can also result in labour unrests.
In spite of all the government plans to do to ease the biting hardship in the country to bring some solace to everyone, it is about time it tackled the misbehaviour of some drivers and traders who take advantage of lack of price control law in the country to cheat others.
Meanwhile, the Ghanaian Times commends transport unions and groups like the OA Travel and Tour and other long distance commercial transport branches for waiting for approval before they review their fares even though they too buy petroleum products at their new prices,