The government, in collaboration with the World Bank and the Agency Francaise de Development, has earmarked a total of US$95 million for the implementation of Urban Transport Project (UTP ), in six Metropolitan and Municipal Assemblies this year.
These are Accra, Ga East, Ga West and Tema in the Greater Accra Region, and Kumasi and Ejisu Juaben, both in the Ashanti Region.
The UTP is made up of six components, namely, institution development, traffic engineering, management and safety, pilot Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, development and operation, integration of urban development and monitoring and evaluation.
The Minister of Transportation, Dr. Richard Anane, announced this at a forum on Urban Passenger Transport Regulation draft bye-laws in Accra.
He hinted that BRT system had been acknowledged globally, as one of the solutions for dealing with the burgeoning urban transport problems. It is low cost, compared to other modes, and is capable of carrying between 10,000 and 25,000 passengers per hour.
Dr. Anane added that in countries where the system had been implemented, it had succeeded in greatly improving their urban transport systems, notably Bogota, Curitiba, Jakarta, Ottawa and Seoul in Columbia, Brazil, Indonesia, Canada and South Korea respectively.
He disclosed that the Mallam Central Business District corridor had been selected as a pilot route for the BRT system, and that upon the successful implementation of the system on the pilot route, other routes, which have been mapped out as potential BRT routes, would also be considered.
This pilot project was expected to reduce travel time for bus commuters, along the route, to an estimated 25 minutes, compared to the over one hour at the best time of the day. It was also expected to attract over 10,000 passengers, during the peak hour, increase the productivity of buses, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, as well as increasing the general traffic speed, Dr. Anane noted.
He intimated that after completion, the urban transport project would give a boost to the operation of the metro mass transit, to enable it make the necessary impact in the provision of affordable, and reliable transport services, to Ghanaians.
Dr. Anane assured all operators of urban transport services that the project was not meant to push them out of business, but rather to assist them to properly organize their operations.
Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, also disclosed that the six participating assemblies in the project, are currently mobilizing to set up urban passenger transport units (UPTUs), to assist the assemblies plan, manage and regulate the delivery of urban passenger transport services, in their respective administrative areas.
As part of the project, the participating assemblies will pass passenger transport bye-laws, this year, register all passengers transport routes, and start the issuing of route operating permits, to rationalize the operation of urban passenger transport, he said.