Stop issuing threats, hasten process of fixing fares

 Of late, there are re­ports of the inten­tions of transport operators increasing fares and the whole country is awaiting that.

However, reports reaching the Ghanaian Times have it that some commercial vehicle driv­ers in Accra (both trotro and taxi) have started charging new fares from the centre of the city to some of its suburbs.

Meanwhile, long-distance drivers are waiting for the pro­cess of increasing fares to end before introducing new fares.

The problem now is that the charging of the unapproved fares has resulted in confron­tations between the ‘erring’ drivers and their mates on one side and passengers on the other.

While the drivers insist on doing everything possible to collect the new fares, whether approved or not, some passen­gers are refusing to pay the fares because they have not been made official by way of approval from the appropriate authorities in the transport sector.

Much as the Ghanaian Times is not against increase in fares, it is worried about the annual chaos associated with the increase, both before and immediately after it.

That means the front liners in the matter have failed to learn lessons from the hap­penings regarding increases in fares over the years.

There is no way even the government can stop the in­crease in fares since it has not been able to stop the hikes in prices of vehicles and the inputs used in operating them.

Therefore, the best thing to do is to start planning towards the increase in fares long before any groups of drivers or drivers’ unions would start any move that can be counted against them.

Let everyone be honest that the delay in addressing issues that directly affect the ordi­nary citizens such as fixing transport fares is unaccept­able.

Besides, the show of power and authority in such matters must be discarded because it is provocative.

The Ghanaian Times thinks, for instance, that the Ministry of Transport should rather help to hasten the negotiation to increase fares than en-treat­ing the Ghana Police Service and other security agencies to be on the lookout for the arrest of any driver who flouts a directive to drivers not to increase fare, jointly issued by the Ministry of Trans­port, Ghana Private Road Transport Union and Ghana Road Transport Coordinat­ing Council, which form the tripartite committee in the transport sector.

Statements like this tend to make those directed at as well as others display some impunity or raise objections to taunt the power bearers and this is exactly what is happen­ing now.

The Concerned Drivers As­sociation of Ghana (C-DAG) has called the bluff of the Ministry of Transport over its directive, insisting its members will charge their new fares be­cause transport operators are not “charity organisations”.

The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) has also chided the Ministry over its directive, maintaining that the Ministry has no power to determine transport fares.

In addition, a former Dep­uty Transport Minister, Joyce Bawah Mogtari, has chal­lenged the Ministry’s authority to order the arrest of private transport drivers, for increas­ing their fares because it lacks the mandate to do so.

It is about time principal stakeholders in the transport sector, particularly the Min­istry of Transport, did the needful about fixing transport fares to forestall chaos involv­ing drivers, their mates and passengers rather than issuing threats.

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