Mr. Alex Mould, CEO, National Petroleum Authority
THE RECENT increases in prices of petroleum products have once again generated the occasional physical and verbal altercations between commuters and drivers in the Kumasi metropolis.
Pockets of confusion and confrontations were recorded between travelers and commercial drivers, especially, mini-bus drivers (trotro drivers) following disagreements over lorry fares.
Commuters in the metropolis could not understand why drivers were charging arbitrary fares, with some charging as much as sixty and eighty percent on existing fares.
From Kejetia to Tafo, Roman Hill to Atonsu, Kejetia to Abuakwa, and Adum to Tech Junction, passengers engaged in arguments with drivers and their conductors over increases, occasionally turning physical.
Where passengers were paying 20Gp to board a trotro vehicle, the price has been increased to 30 and 35Gp, while the 25Gp fare has now been increased to 40Gp. A passenger now needs a minimum of 50Gp to be able to enjoy a ride in a taxi.
The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) announced at the beginning of the year, a 30% increase in prices of petroleum products, following corresponding increases of crude on the world market, but residents in the Kumasi metropolis are outraged by the NPA’s decision, for which many blame the government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), led by Prof. John Evans Atta Mills.
Many residents are questioning the rationale behind the increases, with some wondering if the action year promised by the President during his Christmas message to the country, was already in motion.
Some aggrieved commuters described the increase as being insensitive on the part of the government to the plight of the common Ghanaian.
According to them, the increases werre going to have ripple effects on other aspects of trades, including daily needs like foods and household items.
They contend that coming from the long days of Christmas holidays, the increases in petroleum prices at the beginning of the year would severely affect their income status.
Many also blame the government for failing to liaise with the Road Transport Coordinating Council and other transport unions, before coming out with the increases in the prices, a situation, which they argued, had accounted for the arbitrary charges in lorry fares by drivers.
Meanwhile, some transport operators in the metropolis have called on both drivers and passengers to exercise restraint, while measures were being taking to resolve the differences.
The Vice National Chairman of the Commercial Drivers Association of Ghana, Alhaji Iddrissu Lawal, told the paper in an interview, that transport operators in the metropolis would be meeting the Road Transport Coordinating Council to try and work out the various fares to correspond with the increases.
Alhaji Lawal stated that they hoped to reach a consensus that would be of benefit to both drivers and passengers in the metropolis.