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General News of Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Source: GNA

GPRTU urges government to suspend implementation of BRTS

Accra, April 27, GNA - Members of Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) on Tuesday called for suspension of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) System until stakeholders wer= e educated on its benefits. It is a system that operates on bus lanes along some selected routes with high technological buses.

The system is a collaborative project being implemented by the Department of Urban Roads with funding from the World Bank, Global Environmental Facility and the Agence Francaise de Development. The initial project would be implemented in 10 Metropolitan and Municipal Assemblies. These are Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Tema Municipal Assembly, Kuma= si Metropolitan Assembly, Ga East, Ga West, Ledzokuku-Krowor and Weija Municipal Assemblies. Mr Alando Sidik, General Secretary of GPRTU addressing a press conference in Accra said as a developing country, there was the need to b= e cautious in introducing the system perceived to be successful in develope= d countries but had some economic difficulties. He said even in developed countries with good infrastructure there w= ere subsidies on fuel and transport fares to make workers comfortable. "The GPRTU see BRT system as a calculated attempt to stifle the priv= ate sector in terms of road transport and more especially intra-city operatio= ns. It would put a lot of people out of job, aggravate the unemployment situation in the country and affect families and other dependants," he added. Mr Sidik pointed out that since the country's road network would be an impediment to the successful implementation of the system, efforts should= be made to re-design the roads to suit the system.

He noted that issuance of permits by the assemblies could lead to discrimination and corruption. "We see an emerging confusion when the system is implemented with regard to who determines vehicle quality standard. The assemblies or Driv= er Vehicle and Licensing Authority," he added. He said the assemblies had failed to consult the leadership of GPRTU= on the route registration exercise under the system. Mr Sidik said implementation of the system would be successful when authorities had the political will to decongest the city and move hawkers from streets and pavements. "Through the Urban Passenger Transport Services bye-laws, one of the objectives was to improve mobility in selected Metropolitan, Municipal an= d District Assemblies through combination of traffic engineering services. This could only be achieved when we desist from poor city planning, haphazard and disorderly placement of kiosks, containers, and encroachmen= ts on road reserves by developers," he added. Mr Sidik appealed to government to review the bye-law which restrict= ed people from operating beyond the permitted limits of the route. "In case someone is sick and the nearest hospital is beyond the specified route, it means the driver cannot continue to the health facili= ty and would therefore have to abandon the sick person to his or her fate within its area of operation," he said.

Mr. Sidik pointed out that government had failed to appreciate contributions of GPRTU towards economic growth and had sidelined it when implementing policies that affected its operations. "It would be recalled that government increased fuel prices recently without prior consultation with the union. Another instance is the increa= se in the road and bridge toll which resulted in hue and cry among some driv= ers and passengers," he added. Mr Kofi Asamoah, Secretary-General of GTUC urged affiliate unions to support GPRTU to achieve its aims and objectives. He advised government to engage the relevant stakeholders in the transport sector through consultations when enacting policies concerning operations of the industry.

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