GPRTU AMA IN A ROW....over the implementation of transport project (Friday April 30, 2010, Front Page)

THE war of words between members of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) over the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system degenerated into an open scuffle at the premises of the AMA yesterday.
No injuries were reported but things turned violent when about 200 angry protesters from the GPRTU, intent on forcing their way into the offices of the AMA, engaged armed policemen who had been detailed there to maintain the peace in mass wrestling.
The angry drivers, clad in red, carried placards some of which read, "We say No to BRT", "We won't agree for you to take our jobs" and "We no go sit down make you cheat us always, daabi".
They contended that the AMA had invited them to its office to deliberate on the concerns the GPRTU had raised against the implementation of the BRT and so did not understand why the same AMA should hire armed policemen to deny drivers access to the venue of the meeting.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic outside the AMA premises, the Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the GPRTU, Alhaji Issah Tetteh, said he found it difficult to understand why the AMA should deny entry to people it had invited.
According to him, the AMA invited two representatives each from the stations under its jurisdiction, a number which he stated were woefully inadequate to speak to the interest of the members.
"The AMA wants to know what our problems are and I do not know why it cannot sit down with us and discuss the problems but also invited those who are in agreement with the programme,” he said.
Some of the agitated drivers hurled insults at the AMA boss, Mr Alfred Vanderpuije, who they claimed was in connivance with some transport owners to deny GPRTU members their daily bread.
Reacting to that, the Accra Metro Roads Engineer, Mr Abass Awolu, explained that invitation letters for the meeting had requested only the executives and two focal persons from each of the drivers’ welfare associations to attend the meeting and he, therefore, did not understand why all the GPRTU members wanted access to the meeting ground.
Ironically, officials of the AMA said the meeting with the public transport operators yesterday morning was to discuss its route registration exercise (RRE) scheduled to begin from May this year and not the BRT, as the protesters claimed.
The RRE, according to the assembly, had become crucial to collate basic public transportation data which would enable it to plan and regulate the sector.
The leadership of other key players in the road transport sector, such as the Metro Mass Transit, the Progressive Transport Owners Association, the Ghana Co-operative Society and the Ghana Coach Owners Association, however, turned up for the meeting.
They were later joined by some executives of the GPRTU who walked out barely 10 minutes into the meeting.
Mr Vanderpuije condemned the behaviour of the GPRTU members, stressing that the registration exercise would begin as planned.
“We have a responsibility to organise public transportation in such a way that it is safe, reliable and affordable to the people,” he stated.
Ghana’s public transport system was deregulated, with the encouragement of the World Bank, in the 1990s. That led to an increased transport provision but the cities have had to contend with worsened road congestion, a deteriorating urban environment and big problems with user safety and security.
The private operators work without any schedule, route licensing or service standards. The licence gives them permission to operate anywhere, resulting in their concentration along the main high-density corridors.
According to a World Bank report of 2004, “this situation has particularly worsened the travel environment for the poor, who live in outlying areas and depend mostly on public transport”.
To reform the sector, the Urban Transport Project (UTP), which is funded by the World Bank and other donors, is being implemented by some selected assemblies to bring sanity into Ghana’s public transportation.
However, earlier this week, the GPRTU, at a press conference, cautioned against the implementation of the project, saying it was a calculated attempt to stifle the private road transport sector, especially intra-city transport.

Comments

  1. The GPRTU should give us a break. We cannot continue to be at their beck and call. The progress of the nation is at stake

    ReplyDelete

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