Commercial drivers have begun charging new fares following an agreement that transport fares should be adjusted.
However, while members of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) are charging the 19 per cent increment as announced, the Concerned Drivers Association members have pegged their increment at 30 per cent.
This situation has triggered agitation between drivers and their mates on one hand and passengers on the other hand as the latter insist on charging the fares as approved by their unions and the former try to protest.
This has resulted in arguments, insults and name-calling with almost every moving “trotro.”
The Daily Graphic visited some transport terminals and also commuted on some trotros to observe how displeased passengers challenged the fares and sometimes refused to pay the new fares, which led to hot exchanges.
On one of the buses from Ridge Roundabout to Adentan Barrier, a hot exchange ensued as the passenger, obviously unaware that fares had been adjusted, refused to pay the GH¢8.50 being charged, insisting that the fare was GH¢6.80.
The passenger said he did not understand how the fare would change on the same day. The mate, who insisted that the new fare be paid, asked his driver to stop at 37 Military Hospital bus stop, so the passenger could alight from the bus.
Eventually, the passenger, who realised that it was rush hour and he might have to struggle to get to his destination, paid the fare and calm was restored in the vehicle.
Short distances have had an average of 50 pesewas increment while long distances have seen an average increment of GH¢1 to GH¢2 depending on which union the operators belong to.
For instance, Circle to Kaneshie which used to be GH¢3 was now GH¢3.50. Also, Circle to Accra has seen a consistent increment from GH¢ 2.80 and GH¢3 to GH¢3.30 and GH¢3.50
Passengers are paying more for longer distances. The fare from Kasoa to Circle, for example, has increased from GH¢7.50 to GH¢8.50. Commuters from Ashongman to Circle now pay GH¢7.50 instead of GH¢6.20, with the fare from Amasaman to Circle increased from GH¢4.70 to GH¢6.00.
A driver, James Boye, who commutes between Circle and Kasoa, said despite the hardships, the increment was necessary in order not to run at a loss and urged passengers to bear with them.
People think we are the cause so they blame and insult us. But what they don’t understand is that we are also trying to survive.
“How do they expect transport fares to stay the same when literally on a daily basis, prices of fuel are going up?” he said.
Another driver, Charles Aryee, said he was only complying with the new directives of the GPRTU.
As for me, I do as the union says. They have told us to increase the fares so we are doing just that. Anyone who has a problem should go and speak to the union heads.
“I don’t engage passengers when they insult me and my mate. I give them a choice, they either pay or get off my bus, it’s that simple,” he explained.
A mate, who only identified himself as Randy, said: “At this point, I am even tired of being a mate. I am tired of the insults and the arguments.
I am called a thief more times in a day than I can count. Something needs to be done and people must understand that it is not our fault,” he lamented.
A beautician, Eunice Amoo, accused transport operators of taking advantage of the changes in fuel prices to cheat passengers.
“We understand that times are hard but these new fares are just exorbitant. Some of the drivers and mates are not being fair.
They are taking advantage of the increment to charge unfairly and the government needs to step in,” she said.
A spare parts dealer, Abu Tahiru, said: “This is getting out of hand. The government should not make this another talk shop but must do something about the fuel prices because that is what transport operators are mainly using as an excuse to increase fares and that is affecting everything.”
A passenger in a Circle to Kaneshie bus, Mildred Esi Baiden, said the new fares were making business difficult on a daily basis.
As a trader, these new fares have taken a great toll on me and my business.
“If I should increase the prices of my wares, people will accuse me of profiteering but they seem to forget that transport plays a role in the cost of commodities,” she said.
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