Increment in lorry fares is justified – NDC MP
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Adaklu, Mr Governs Kwame Agbodza, has supported the recent increment in transport fares.
According to the Adaklu Lawmaker, drivers cannot be faulted for asking for an increment because they have been badly hit by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) disease.
He noted that commercial drivers have had to deal with a reduction in their incomes as a result of the reduced intake of passengers, due to measures put in place to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.
He observed that the government should be the one held responsible for this act.
The Adaklu Legislator explained that the government ought to support the drivers with the Covid-19 stimulus package and the monies it received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB).
“On behalf of the general public using public transport, I would have said that they are already suffering so I wouldn’t expect any increment to make life more difficult for them. But, if I put myself in the shoes of the commercial driver, who is supposed to run a business, and even, at least, break even otherwise they can’t buy fuel, they can’t buy spare parts.
“I would say that the solution does not lie with the public or the transport owners, it lies with the government. Give these people some incentives. Some of us thought that they will use some of the incentives from the World Bank to cushion commercial drivers and others by reducing the taxes on fuel products, because, when you do that, it will affect everybody positively.”
It would be recalled that the government increased the fares by 15 percent, effective Saturday, July 11, 2020, and indicated that the increment cuts across board, taxis, trotros, long distance vehicles and cargo trucks.
This was when the leadership of a group calling itself Concerned Drivers Union threatened to increase fares by 30 percent due to the increase in fuel prices.
Many Ghanaians have been expressing serious concerns about the increment, saying that it would really have a toll on their daily spending.
However, the Adaklu Legislator says Ghanaians ought not to blame the ‘poor drivers’ for the increment, but the government.
Mr Agbodza said that Ghanaians should rather shift their focus on advocating for the government to support drivers with the Covid-19 stimulus package meant for businesses.
It would be recalled that Ghana is among other countries which have benefited from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) support for countries which were hard hit by the Covid-19.
On April 13, 2020, the IMF Executive Board approved the disbursement of US$1 billion, to be drawn under the Rapid Credit Facility.
The IMF observed that the Covid-19 pandemic was already impacting Ghana severely, growth was slowing down, financial conditions had tightened, and the exchange rate was under pressure.
The authorities, therefore, timely and proactively, responded to contain the spread of the pandemic in Ghana and support the affected households and firms.
Similarly, the World Bank also provided $100 million to Ghana to assist the country in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. The $100 million will be made available to the government and the people of Ghana as short, medium and long-term support.
The financing package included $35 million in emergency support to help the country provide improved response systems. Under this emergency package, the World Bank supported the Government of Ghana to help prevent, detect, and respond to the Covid-19 pandemic through the Ghana Emergency Preparedness and Response Project (EPRP).
The President, Nana Akufo-Addo, also launched the GH¢1 billion Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme to support businesses, households, and individuals, due to reduced productivity, job losses, and steep decline in government revenues resulting from the Coivd-19 pandemic.
Mr Agbodza said Ghanaians should question the Akufo-Addo government about the whereabouts of the IMF and WB money, and his promise of helping Ghanaian businesses.
He said if these drivers had been made to benefit from the package, it would have eased the financial burden brought on them by the impact of the pandemic