Why is GPRTU allowing drivers to act with impunity?

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The Ghana Private Road and Transport Union (GPRTU) was formed to ensure the efficient management of commercial road transport in the country.

As part of its core mandate, it is responsible for negotiating with the government, on behalf of its members, policies or initiatives that will promote the interest of private commercial transport owners and to a large extent, passengers.

However, the GPRTU has been weak in carrying out this responsibility thereby pushing drivers of private commercial vehicles to take the law into their own hands and set transport fares arbitrarily.

Private transport owners have consistently called on their umbrella body to conclude negotiations with the government and come out with new fares, as they argue, they are running at a loss as a result of consistent increases in fuel prices at the pumps.

The GPRTU, however, has failed to announce new fares, causing drivers to fix their own fares at the expense of commuters.

What saddens me the most is that the drivers are not using any formula for their calculation of the fare increase.

On Wednesday morning, as I boarded the public transport from Malam to Circle, the driver’s mate told all passengers that we are paying GHS2.50 each, a 25percent increase on the previous fare of GHS2.

This morning, I was charged GHS2.30p (15 percent increase). What is this?

Some other colleagues of mine also told me their fares have been unjustifiably increased by 30pesewas, others 20pesewas, and the like. Another lady said she commutes from Burma Camp to Circle and the fare has been increased by 20pesewas. Still, some tell me there has been no increase at all on their fares.

My question is: How can GPRTU sit and watch such a disorderly system run when they are supposed to fix the right fares passengers should pay?

All we have heard from them is that they are still in negotiations with whoever and that they have not yet introduced any new fares, so drivers should stay calm until they come out with the right fares.

If I put myself in the shoes of the drivers and vehicle owners, I don’t blame them for wanting an increase in the fares. Because as of this month, fuel prices at the pumps have seen an upward adjustment by about 12 percent and that means additional cost and a shrunk in revenue for transport owners. Who will sit down and watch this when he/she can just increase fares without any sanctions from GPRTU?

What has aggravated the situation is that GPRTU has sat idle for drivers to enjoy this impunity—increasing fares at their own rates—without any sanctions, something which it has authority to do. This is a clear sign of incompetence and irresponsibility on the part of GPRTU.

GPRTU should come out and set the fares for passengers to know the right amount to pay. That way, we will find it justifiable to pay the fares without any banter with the drivers and their mates.

The government also cannot exonerate itself from this messy situation. There is a Transport Ministry that is supposed to superintend all activities in the transportation sector. What steps have been taken to address this situation?