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General News of Tuesday, 15 July 2003

Source: GNA

Haulage drivers call-off strike

Tema, July 15, GNA - Haulage truck drivers at the Tema Main Harbour who had embarked on a weeklong strike action in protest against harassment by the security agencies on the roads and discrepancies in the checking of goods have resumed work.

This followed an emergency meeting between Professor Christopher Ameyaw Akumfi, Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways and the drivers on Saturday to resolve their complaints.

Alhaji Adamu Yussif Danjumah, Acting Chairman of the Tema branch of the Ghana Haulage Truck Drivers Association (GHTDA) told the GNA that members had resumed work following the Minister's assurance that their allegations would be investigated thoroughly to ensure their smooth operations.

"If by Wednesday we do not hear anything from the Minister the entire executives will move to meet him in Accra," he said, adding that the association was fully prepared to co-operate to ensure the smooth operation of the haulage sector.

Asked whether the drivers in the Northern parts of the country had complied with the directives in view of the alleged detention of about 50 trucks by the security agencies, Alhaji Danjumah said since he had not received any further complaints from them that was an indication that they had resumed work.

He protested against frequent interruptions in the haulage drivers' operations by the security agencies as well as government policies that had discouraged most of them to divert their services to other countries since the carting of goods to the land-locked countries in the sub-region started five years ago.

"We pray that the government will adopt the collection of road tolls to generate more revenue as is being done in other parts of the sub-region, instead of resorting to the use of the weighing scale, which only promote corruption."

The Acting Chairman said the executive members of the association were prepared to place their knowledge and experienced in road transport at the disposal of the government, should the Minister involve them in his programmes on the haulage of goods.

"Initially we made several attempts to offer meaningful suggestions and advice to the government for a workable solution, which would generate more revenue but we had to abandon the exercise because we encountered a lot of frustration."

At Saturday's meeting, the drivers engaged in carting transit goods from the Tema Port to the land-locked countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali complained of harassment by the security agencies by way of extortion of monies, the use of unacceptable scales to measure the weight of their cargo and the absence of parking lots along the major roads.