GPRTU Threatens Mass Sit down strike

The Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) has threatened a mass sit-down strike in the Greater Accra Region, if its grievances concerning the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system are not addressed.
The union said its engagement with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) had yielded no fruit because the AMA was bent on imposing its wishes and position on the union without taking the union’s interest into consideration.
At a meeting with the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Armah Ashitey, yesterday to discuss the concerns of the GPRTU on the BRT, the Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the GPRTU, Alhaji Issah Tetteh, said “no consensus has been reached on the matter with the AMA because at all our meetings with them, they always impose what they think on us”.
Last 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.
A meeting scheduled between the two bodies on the premises of the AMA degenerated into an open scuffle with the GPRTU withdrawing from a stakeholder meeting on a route registration exercise which starts this month.
According to the assembly, route registration had become crucial to collate basic public transportation data which would enable it to plan and regulate the sector.
Alhaji Tetteh described the route registration exercise as an unnecessary venture that sought to put an extra financial burden on drivers and limit their scope of operation.
He said the project, although expected to reduce traffic congestion on the roads in the city, would only be successful in creating an advantage for operators of the BRT, as roads on which the BRT buses were expected to ply would be traffic-free while that of other road users would be congested.
“Presently most of our roads are two lanes, if the BRT is put on one then the rest of us including private car owners will be on the other. This would clearly put us out of business,” Alhaji Tetteh said.
He said another worrying part of the whole exercise was that the AMA and the other assemblies that would implement the project were now empowered to fix the rate of the assemblies.
Alhaji Tetteh, however, indicated the preparedness of the union to work with the Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC) to solve the impasse.
The Greater Accra Regional Vice-President of the union, Mr Robert Sarbah, for his part said the AMA bye-laws on transport, which was expected to regulate the public transport sector in the city, was done without the input of transport operators and described it as “unfriendly to the operators”.
He wondered why the BRT operators should be responsible for the determination of the standards of vehicles especially when the mandate was already in the hands of the Vehicle Examination and Licensing Authority.
Mr Sarbah appealed to the minister to use his influence to help suspend the implementation of the project until all the stakeholders reached a consensus.
Addressing the concerns of the GPRTU, Mr Ashitey appealed to the union to exercise restraint and allow the RCC to help resolve the matter.
He said the BRT system would be operated by more than one assembly hence the need to ensure that a consensus was reached with all the stakeholders.
He said the dispute between the AMA and the GPRTU was unfortunate, as the positions of the two bodies could be dealt with easily.
Mr Ashitey said “the position of the RCC is that matters relating to labour must be managed properly. We need to have a peaceful industrial climate where matters between management and workers are settled amicably,” adding that “we would always encourage dialogue.
Mr Ashitey said industrial unrest did not promote economic growth nor investor confidence in a country.
He said the RCC would hold a meeting of all stakeholders to iron out the differences to ensure that the programmes ran smoothly as the basis of every project was the benefit it would bring to people.

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