GPRTU calls for suspension of Urban Transport Project (Spread)

The Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) has called on the Ministry of Transport to suspend the implementation of the Urban Transport Project (UTP) until all affected persons and organisations reach a common understanding on its fundamental objectives and benefits.
The GPRTU said the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, one of the interventions in the project, was a calculated attempt to stifle the private road transport sector, especially inner-city transport.
The US$95 million UTP was launched in 2007 to improve upon urban mobility in Ghana. The project is expected to be implemented over a five-year period. It seeks to change the face of public transportation and reduce congestion in the cities as a result of Ghana’s growing urbanisation.
Addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday at which members of the union wore red bands on their heads and sang war songs, the General Secretary of the GPRTU, Mr Alando Sidik, said the BRT would put a lot of people out of job and also aggravate the unemployment situation in the country.
He said the current road network in the country would be an impediment to a successful implementation of the BRT system and as such efforts should be made in re-designing the country’s roads to suit that purpose before its implementation.
According to the United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration, the BRT was an enhanced bus system that operated on bus lanes or other transit ways in order to combine the flexibility of buses with the efficiency of rail.
The BRT operates at faster speeds and provides greater service reliability and increased customer convenience. It also utilises a combination of advanced technologies, infrastructure and operational investments that provide significantly better service than traditional bus service.
The BRT is currently operated in Brazil, Columbia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and China.
Mr Sidik said transport remained key to the country’s growth and development and in that regard, the role of the GPRTU could not be swept under the carpet.
He said the government had failed to appreciate the contributions of the union to the “Better Ghana Agenda” and continued to sideline the it in matters that affected its operations.
He cited the last increment in road tolls and fuel as examples of situations where the communications gap between the government and the GPRTU was widened.
Mr Sidik decried the Accra Metropolitan Assembly’s (AMA’s) attempts to impose a GH¢100 route registration on the individual branches of the union and even dealing directly with the branches without consultation with the GPRTU and said “this undermines the principles for which the union was established”.
He said the powers given the assemblies under the project to issue permits on routes would bring about discrimination and corruption.
He said the GPRTU had been able to survive over the years in an era of fair competition and no transport operator should hide behind the BRT to derail positive contributions of the GPRTU towards road transport, adding that the GPRTU made up more than 85 per cent of the public transport sector.
The Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, for his part, said several government policies had not been successful because of lack of consultations with other stakeholders.
He said the GPRTU remained a force to be reckoned with and, therefore, should be part of consultations aimed at improving the transport sector in the country.
Mr Asamoah assured the GPRTU of the preparedness of all affiliate unions of the TUC to support the GPRTU in its quest to ensure that the right result was achieved.

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