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Opinions of Friday, 19 March 2021

Columnist: Maxwell Maundy

GPRTU: National crisis in the application of the percentage of transport fare increment nationwide

I wrote this article on 22nd July 2020, in the wake of the last Transport Fare increment across the nation. In the wake of a looming increment following the recent Budget Statement, I wish to share this article now that I'm a Columnist, thanks to Ghanaweb. Please read on:

On Monday the 6th of July 2020, commuters in some parts of the country woke up to the news that Transport Fares have been increased. The fare from Amasaman to Madina was increased from GHS 3.60 to 4.80. In the evening of that day, it was in the news that GPRTU was asking for a 30% increment, but Government had not approved the increment. A day or two later, Amasaman to Madina fare was reversed to the old: GHS 3.60. At the end of that week, it was announced that Government had approved a 15% increment.

On Monday the 13th of July 2020, commuters on the Amasaman to Madina route were taken by surprise. The fare was increased from GHS 3.60 to 5.00. If you calculate 15% of the old fare of 3.60, you'll get 0.54. So the new fare should have been 4.14 or at most 4.20. There have been lots of arguments between drivers and their mates on one hand, and commuters on the other. We are in the second week of the fare increment, so it looks like the abnormal increment has come to stay.

I happened to travel on Amasaman to 37 route on Tuesday the 21st of July 2020. To my surprise, the fare from Amasaman to 37 was increased from GHS 3.70 to 4.50. So my question is: how come Amasaman to 37 was increased from GHS 3.70 to 4.50 but Amasaman to Madina increased from GHS 3.60 to 5.00? Who is in charge of this abnormality?

Do we have a body that ensures that the percentage of Transport fare increment is equitably applied at the various GPRTU branches nationwide? Do we have a Consumer Protection Watchdog in this country, especially with regards to Transport Fares as it affects all of our lives?
The Fares were eventually resolved and Amasaman to 37 became 4.30, increased from 3.70 to 4.30.

However, abonormality remained on the Madina to Amasaman route: increased from 3.60 to 4.50. Madina to Amasaman should have been 4.20. An excess 0.30 has been applied on the Amasaman to Madina route. Because the excess 0.30 on the Amasaman to Madina route affects me personally in my daily commute to work, I had written extensively on this abnormality, and personally spoken to local GPRTU officials at the Amasaman station.

There's so much insanity and madness going on in our country that sometimes one wonders if we have leaders at the helm of affairs. And for those of us who have sojourn in foreign climes, we sometimes get overwhelmed with what is going on in our country.

Since my return to this country 8 years ago, I have steadily been following the trend in the abnormality in applying the percentage of approved fare increment across various GPRTU branches nationwide. This situation has resulted in abnormal fares all over the country, but various government have not taken notice of this major national problem, and to institute a body that'll make sure that whenever there's an increment in Transport Fares, the percentage of increment is equitably applied throughput the nation, and not left to the drivers and their mates to apply their own increment as they deem fit.

The abnormality has mostly affected short distance travels in Accra in particular. For the past 8 years, I've keenly observed how drivers and their mates apply the percentage increment as follows:

Take Amasaman to Pokuase for instance, a journey of 2 or 3 short distance bus stops that takes 6 minutes. When minimum transport fares were less than Ghc 1, there have been fare increment where the percentage of increment, if equitably applied, would have amounted to 0.15, but the drivers and their mates would add 0.30 (twice the percentage of increment) on the old fare.

At a point, drivers and mates plying Accra to Nsawam were charging Ghc 1 as the fare from Amasaman to Pokuase, an increase from 0.70 to Ghc 1. Meanwhile, the percentage of approved increment should have made the new fare 0.80, but the drivers and mates on the route maintained that minimum fare was Ghc 1, so increased the fare from 0.70 to Ghc 1.

I was however taken by surprise one day when I boarded a trotro from 37 to Opeibea, and the fare was 0.80 How come that the drivers on Accra to Madina route had not effected a minimum fare of Ghc 1 as their counterparts at Accra to Nsawam route had done?

One day I boarded a trotro from Ridge (British Embassy junction) to 37. I couldn't believe the fare the mate told me. The fare from Ridge to 37 is same as Accra to 37. This 37 to Accra fare is abnormally so high because of the abnormality in applying higher than the approved percentage of increment over the years. When I started complaining about the fact that the fare from Ridge/Accra to 37 is abnormally too high, all the passengers in the trotro agreed and equally joined the argument I was having with the mate and driver.

All the passengers saw the reason in my explanation, and began discussing the problem. But who has the guts and the will to take the matter further? Absolutely NO ONE! We just complain for a day or two, and then get used to it: that’s our way of life!

There have not been the leadership or the political will to resolve the problem of abnormal Transport Fare increment, because it only affects the ordinary and average Ghanaians who commute on public transport. The elected officials or the Politicians with the power and authority to make sure that transport fare increment are equitably applied, are not themselves affected by the problem because they are driving around in V8 vehicles with the state fueling their high consuming vehicles.

It's as if we are living in the Animal Kingdom! Yesterday, I boarded a 'trotro' from Madina to Amasaman, and the mate and driver were saying that transport fares will go up the next day, so we should tighten our pocket. Already, there's an abnormally higher than approved fare increment of extra 0.30 on the Madina to Amasaman route. So for me to imagine that come the next day, there's going to be another increment; that really makes me sick because I'm personally affected by the abnormality.

Three years now since I've been plying Madina to Amasaman route for my daily commute to work as a public servant with a meagre salary, which had not increased for the past 3 years since I started my job. Currently, transportation takes 2/3 of my monthly salary. Something is just not right with us as a people, but who dares to make a change?

There's a U-TURN at Fise Junction to Amasaman on the Accra Nsawam road. There's a massive porthole that has taken away part of the U-TURN. A year or two ago, President Nana Addo was supposed to commission some Housing Project at Amasaman Stadium Road. On the morning of the alleged coming of the President, all the portholes within Amasaman enclave were quickly filled with sand, so the President doesn't see or get to know of the problems in the area.

The alleged commissioning didn't take place. The President had a tight itinerary that day, as he commissioned some projects at West Hills Mall area and others that same day. Years on, the massive porthole at Fise Junction U-TURN is still there. Festus Hotel to Pokuase on the Nsawam to Accra road has some deadly portholes that, for a first-time commuter (driver) to ply that road in the night, God Himself must be at the steering wheel!

How did we churn out this way? Is it a creation deficit? Yet we see sections of the electorates hailing Politicians with slogans as "Unprecedented Development!" Three days ago, a TV Presenter friend sent me a video of an incidence on the Adenta road, an accident in the night, with no street lights on the Adenta highway.

Yesterday, I met an African American at the Legon Post Office. I told him about my Book DARKEST HUMANITY. He was so excited about the Book, bought a copy right away, and asked me to autograph it for him. He later sent me a WhatsApp message:

"Peace and blessings my brother. It was an honor to meet you today and have your signed book. I tell you, it’s utterly important that your message gets out. Considering what’s going on with the so-called royal family in the UK it’s perfect timing. Many times people relegate racism and white Supremacy to us Africans from the Americas and over look what’s going on in Europe especially the UK.

They sadly forget that the USA and Australia are the daughters of the UK. Our people need to wake up and see the true beauty and opportunities that exist in the land of our ancestors. They need to stop seeing the land of the whites as our salvation. No one is saving us but us. Africa has no friends. We just have family.

We must be the solutions to each other and relearn one another to defuse what slavery and colonialism has done to us. We must remove all the negative aspects of white ice is colder than black ice and promote and support each other. We must hold each other accountable and expect nothing but the best mixed with integrity, honor and transparency. We must protect our women and children and invest in our futures now.

We must create sustainable industries that empower our people while protecting and preserving our lands. We must have a clear stance towards our enemies, foreign and domestic which will defuse corruption and abuses and demand stiff penalties to those who defy our position. We must see ourselves as the Almighty see us. We are his people making us gods in the eyes of the world.

Your book before I’ve even read it, I can see it’s a tool for enlightenment and must be put on the big screen. Your story has to get out."
I was in tears after reading his message. Tears for 3 reasons:

1. That he has left the US, the country of his birth, and returned to the land of birth of his forefathers. From his skin colour, I could tell that one of his grandparents must be White. He has all the enthusiasm, faith and hope, and eagerly wants to see Ghana and Africa develop, and all that one can ever imagine.

2. That I'm not able to tell him as yet that I'm already packing my bags to return to the Queen’s country, in spite of all the inhumanity they subjected me to even after becoming useful to them. And that in spite of all things, I still see England as a better place to educate my children, so they grow up with knowledge of honesty, integrity, and truth.

3. And thirdly that he might end up finding himself in the situation I've found myself, like many others before him and I, as Uncle KSM rightly put it, "Saga of the Returnee!" I don't know how long he's been around. I can only hope and pray that nothing quenches the fire burning inside of him right now; that he'll be able to see Ghana and Africa become what he's so passionately earning for.

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