Mr. Godfrey Bayon Tangu, Minister of State In-Charge of Transportation, on Wednesday reiterated government's commitment to promote and enhance the operations of commercial transport as a means of increasing productivity and reduce the high incidence of road crashes.
He noted that road transport accounted for 94 per cent of movement of both passengers and goods but was plagued with many difficulties.
"Unfortunately, the management of our road transport system in terms of the operations of the fleet of vehicles, the regulatory environment, fleet renewal and safety leaves much to be desired," he said.
Speaking at the first Zonal Vanguard Best Taxi Driver Awards under the theme: [email protected] - The contribution of the Taxi Driver, Taxi Owners and Taxi Unions, Mr. Tangu said the situation had made road transport uncompetitive, unprofitable and therefore unattractive to run.
"The returns on investment to the owners are low
and they find it difficult to acquire new vehicles."
The occasion was also used to commission 100 new taxicabs purchased under the joint partnership by PHC motors, Vanguard Assurance, Ecobank and the Federation of Taxi Drivers, which would be given to taxi drivers on leasing basis.
"I wish to assure you of government's appreciation of this laudable private sector initiative and hope that together we will work towards transforming our taxi service and public transport into the efficient transportation system we see and so much admire in the developed world," he said.
Mr. Tangu said the theme was a reflection of the tremendous contributions of taxi operations towards the socio-economic development of the country.
"It is the expectation of government that the effective implementation of the objectives of the project would no doubt make Ghana a competitive and attractive investment destination where our investors, both local and foreign, could feel comfortably satisfied to do good business."
Mr. Tangu said the urban transportation project launched recently was designed to improve and promote urban transport in major cities to enhance efficiency and effectiveness to improve the quality of lives.
He added that government would redesign some of the main arterials and use high capacity buses through the mechanism of private sector participation.
Mr. Tangu said the ministry was hopeful that the Vanguard taxi intervention project would be a departure point to ensure that taxi services improved.
"This entails inculcating positive behaviours and attitude patterns in our taxi drivers in particular and commercial drivers in general."
Mr. Paul Peprah, Managing Director of PHC Motors, said the company would soon set up service stations and beef up their equipment to deliver quality after sales services.
Mr Morgan Asiedu, Company Secretary and Head of Legal Services of Ecobank, called on the drivers to regularly honour their payment obligations to allow others to benefit from the scheme.
A 47 year-old taxi driver, Mr. Julius Caeser Amoah of Sofo-line in Kumasi, emerged as the overall winner of the competition. He took home a brand new Tata salon car.
Mr. Amoah advised his colleagues to drive defensively to avoid crashes on the road. He also called on his colleagues to take the yearly training programme by Vanguard Assurance seriously.
Mr. Mahama E. Baba, Chief Executive Officer of Vanguard Assurance, said the day marked a milestone in the life of the Vanguard Taxi Intervention Project and its relationship with taxi drivers, taxi unions and taxi owners.
"I can confidently say that the Vanguard Taxi Project is the most unique intervention by an insurance company to create and maintain a significantly close relationship with a key segment of its market to help develop it for the benefit of the country."
Mr Baba said the taxi industry had contributed its fair share in the development of the nation and it was only fair that while singing the praises of other sectors of the economy, the same should be done to the taxi industry and its key practitioners.
"Taxi drivers, we sincerely believe, constitute an indispensable group in our transport service delivery and so deserve such recognition as is accorded other professions like teaching, farming and nursing," he added.
Mr Clifford Aboagye, Chairman of the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), said road accidents reduced in the first quarter of the year. However, the menace could not be curbed if the law enforcers did not assist in the fight, he warned.
"It is high time we call a spade a spade; it is an open secret that most of our law enforcers assist in the increase of accidents in the country," he said.
"Instead of protecting the lives of passengers, some police personnel prefer to collect money from drivers rather than arrest them for speeding, overloading and reckless driving, among others."