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Opinions of Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Columnist: Amese, Fred K

The Ugly Side Of The Metro Mass Transport System In Ghana.

By: Fred K. Amese

Before I begin showing you the ugly side of the Metro Mass Transport (MMT) buses which are popularly called Kuffuor buses, I must admit that the metro mass transport system as introduced by the erstwhile NPP administration has helped a long way in augmenting the transport deficit of the country. Indeed it is one of the legacies of the NPP government that the people of this country will be grateful for. These buses ply our roads from the cities to virtually every district in this country. They have relatively reliable departure times though there are instances where one can get delayed for an hour or two. The fare charged by these buses are relatively cheaper hence gives some relief to the poor majority. They also provide relative comfort as the big tires help to cushion one from the shocks transmitted by our tortuous rugged tragedy prone roads that have potholes that can best be described as manholes. These positives notwithstanding, some management practices being adopted by the officials of the metro mass transit buses are defeating the purpose of the buses thus making life very uncomfortable for travelers.

I have travelled a number of times on the metro mass busses and have always been frustrated at the amount of time I had to spend joining long queues in anticipation of getting a ticket to buy. The tradition with the metro mass system is that most of them do not sell advance tickets. One has to queue in wait for the bus and the selling of the tickets only commence when the bus arrives. The repercussions of this practice are:

1. There are instances where the frenzy generated by the arrival of the bus leads to the distortion of the lines thus all the time spent in that queue becomes wasted as you will end up not getting a ticket.

2. There are also instances where the officials sell a few tickets to those in the queue pretending that the tickets are finished only for them to sell the remaining tickets to the stranded travelers at higher cost. A ticket that sells for GH6 for instance is sold at GH10.

I find it too difficult to understand why in this 21st century, advance tickets cannot be sold. What prevents the officials from selling advance tickets to those who need them? Or do the officials derive any pleasure from the struggle and hustle the passengers go through just to be able to acquire a ticket? Who is responsible for ensuring sanity in the management of the Metro Mass Bus system? In as much as we are interested in dealing with corruption in our political system it is important we deal with corruption at the grass-root level as well. Corruption and lawlessness is becoming endemic in several aspects of the management of the MMT system. I entreat the transport ministry and the various districts, municipal and metro assemblies to look into this issue as a matter of urgency before it leads to fear and panic in this country.

It is not enough to put up systems without ensuring that there are mechanisms in place for sustaining and maintaining the system.

(The author is the Northern Coordinator for Youth Network for Human Rights and Democracy You-Net and currently studying at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University for Development Studies Tamale. He welcomes your comments via fred.amese@gmail.com).