New fares for mass transport system
The fares of the mass public transport system in Accra have been reviewed to make it more affordable and convenient for commuters.
Since Monday, commuters have been paying ¢500 for short distances such as Circle-Accra-Circle and ¢1000 for long distances like Adenta-Accra-Adenta. When the transit programme began about a month ago, commuters on all routes paid ¢2000 flat.
The routes earmarked to pre-test the system are Circle-Accra-Circle, Nima-Circle-Accra, La-Circle- Korle Bu-La, Mallam-Accra-Mallam, Dansoman-Accra-Dansoman and Adenta-Accra-Adenta.
The Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the transit programme, Mr Michael Osafo Mensah, who disclosed this in an interview, however, said that commuters who prefer to pay ¢2000 to use the service for the whole day will be catered for.
He said the pilot phase, which was supposed to have ended this month, has been extended to the end of the year because delivery of the extra 20 buses has been re-scheduled for January, next year.
The chairman also said the seemingly slow pace of the national coverage of the system is to provide the opportunity to address the concerns of the public in order to offer services which are acceptable to all. “We are gathering a lot of information from the public and do not want to rush into decisions that will mar the smooth operation of the system,” he said.
On public perception that the project is being managed by the Omnibus Service Authority (OSA), Mr Mensah explained that the committee has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with OSA to use its facilities at a cost.
He named some of the facilities as the fuel dump and workshop and said the mass transportation system will remain as a quasi-government organisation. On the sustainability of the system, Mr Mensah said the Italian Government, which gave the buses as a gift to Ghana, provided two containers of back-up spare parts for the buses.
He said at present 17 buses are being used and 40 are expected to be shipped in January from Italy. Mr Mensah said a management committee comprising experts in mass transportation, representatives from the National Investment Bank, Ministries of Finance, and Local Government and Rural Development, has been set up to be responsible for the running of the system.
He said there are moves to initiate special transportation arrangement for workers who will make specific demands and this system will operate within a particular time to make it convenient for them.
A number of people went to the Government Technical Training Centre yesterday to be interviewed to be engaged as drivers and bus conductors.
Mr Mensah said before the end of the year, 68 drivers and conductors will be employed and trained to run the buses and that more will be employed as and when the anticipated 100 buses for the nationwide transit programme. In an interview, some of the commuters welcomed the review of the fares but were not happy with the limited number of buses.
Madam Beatrice Azumah, a hawker, said the system is convenient because it is comfortable and well maintained. She was, however, not happy that remote areas in Accra are not served.
Ms Ruby Odoye, a student of the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) who stays in Teshie, said the bus is very beneficial to students who commute to Accra. She said the bus is patronised by many students and that the review of the fares will make it more convenient and affordable.
Mr Robert Foster was of the view that the drivers and conductors should be given decent dress code to make them look more professional.
He expressed the hope that the system will not be a nine day wonder and that government will be able to maintain the buses to serve the needs of the people.