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Business News of Thursday, 25 November 2021

Source: etvghana.com

We’ve not been fair to commercial drivers – NDC’s Akuoko on fuel prices

Drivers of commercial vehicles are threatening to embark on strike Drivers of commercial vehicles are threatening to embark on strike

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentary Candidate for the Bortianor–Ngleshie Amanfro constituency in the 2020 general election, Alexander Akuoko says fair consideration must be given to commercial transport operators, especially with regard to pricing of transport fares as they are the lifeline of the country.

According to him, every aspect of the economy is determined by market forces, primarily demand and supply, “but when it comes to driving and transport fares, the market forces do not apply because governments know they are an essential service and if left to price fares on their own, it can cause some difficulty in the country.”

He described the petroleum sector as an integral part of the country’s economy, with all sectors in a way or the other depending on it. “Service providers need fuel to function. Most telcos have masts that are powered by generators that depend on fuel. This proves how fuel affects every aspect of the economy. So why is it that when it comes to lorry fare prices drivers have to meet with the minister who determines the price for them? We are not being fair to them if we keep doing this.”

In an interview on the Epa Hoa Daben political talk show with Happy98.9FM’s Don Kwabena Prah, he urged the government to deregulate the transport sector to a certain level, giving drivers the leeway to work and determine lorry fares independently in relation to fuel price hikes.

“It is just not fair for drivers to wait on the government to increase lorry fares for them when fuel prices keep rising,” he reiterated.

The Coalition of Private Road Transport Operators has warned of a possible strike on Monday, November 29, 2021, if their calls on the government to reduce fuel prices are unheeded.

The group, in a statement, after a crunch meeting, resolved that “from Tuesday, November 23, 2021, all commercial vehicles must tie red bands on their vehicles in protest of the high prices of fuel.”

“If by Sunday, November 28, 2021 fuel prices are not reduced, then on Monday 29th November 2021 the strike will start earnestly,” Alhaji Moro Abass, Industrial Relations Officer, Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), said in the statement released by the coalition.

The Unions, on Tuesday, November 09, gave the government an ultimatum to reduce taxes on fuel, threatening to ground all commercial vehicles by 3 pm Thursday, November 11, 2021.

They, however, put the intended strike on hold following a meeting with the Transport Ministry.

He expressed disappointment at the government’s refusal to meet their demands when it had the opportunity to do so in the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy presented by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta to Parliament.

He reiterated calls on the government to scrap the taxes, levies and margins on the price build-up as the incessant increase in the price of fuel was collapsing their businesses.

The coalition of private transport operators consists of GPRTU, Association of Tipper Truck Drivers, Harbour Transport Owners, Ghana National Cargo Transport Association, and Ghana Committed Drivers Association.

The rest are the Concerned Drivers Association, Digital Drivers, Commercial motorbike riders, popularly referred to as ‘Okada’, and the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers.