YULETIDE IS here but the usual hustle and bustle seen at lorry stations on such an occasion is absent this time.
Most of the stations DAILY GUIDE visited on Tuesday, a week to Christmas, showed a different picture from what had been the norm, and the scarce commodity was passengers.
According to one Albert Owusu, the station master at the Kpando Station, majority of passengers preferred sending information home via their mobile phones instead of traveling, due to the high cost of lorry fares. He said they were really having a hard time but it would also not be easy lowering the fares due to the high price of fuel and other vehicular inputs.
Passengers traveling to Kpando from Accra with big buses are paying ¢46,000 while those on the urvan buses are charged ¢47,000.
One urvan bus which was seen loading at 10.00am, learnt, started loading at 4.30 am and was yet to be full.
Some of the passengers the paper spoke to did not understand why government should leave the adjustment of lorry fares in the hands of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) without even bothering to monitor the rate of adjustment.
They complained that the relevant authorities should have done their homework well and scheduled the fares, if necessary, in collaboration with officials of the various transport unions even before announcing the increase in fuel prices, as was the norm sometime ago.
“But the way it is now, drivers are only taking advantage of us and charging any fare that suits them so government should do something about it,” they lamented.
The story was however a bit different at the Accra-Ho station. The station chairman, Mr Aikins Agama told DAILY GUIDE that they had not increased fares and that they were maintaining the old fares of ¢35,000 and ¢37,000 for the big and small buses respectively.
He said the station officials and the drivers met to take the decision considering the exigencies of the time, “because even with the current price we have to struggle to load two cars a day and you can just imagine what would happen in case of any further increase.”
Commuters traveling to Peki from Accra have to part with ¢30,000 and ¢32,000 respectively for buses or minibuses while those going to Kpedze are paying ¢43,000 for the mini buses and ¢40,000 for the big ones.
Accra-Hohoe is ¢47,000 at the station controlled by the Progressive Transport Owners Association (PROTOA) but ¢50,000 at the Cooperative Transport Union station, sited a few metres away from the former. Unbelievably, passengers were trooping to the Cooperative station, where the price was higher and this, they attributed to the fast and pleasant service at the station.
The Neoplan station at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle did not have any different scenario. The station, as usual, was busy with people moving to and fro. Drivers' mates are the first one meets on entering the station struggling for Kumasi passengers, an indication that all was not well.
The fares to Kumasi from Accra differ with regard to the type of bus or vehicle one wants to board. The fares range from ¢50,000 to ¢100,000. An air-conditioned bus that carries only 28 passengers charges ¢100,000 and a Neoplan bus without air-condition charges ¢50,000.
Ford buses to Takoradi are also taking ¢100,000 but the regular vehicles, the 207s and others, are charging ¢47,000 while the urvan buses take ¢55,000.
The drivers however expressed optimism that the story would surely change as Christmas approaches. By Mike Avickson