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03.05.2004 Business & Finance

Yam Traders to boycott Volta Lake Transport services

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Akosombo (E/R), May 3, GNA - Yam Traders from Kete-Krachi, Yeji, and Hausakope, who patronise the services of the Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC) have threatened to boycott the services of the company for the frequent breakdown of its vessel during voyages and arbitrary increase in fares.

They have, therefore, given the Company a two-week ultimatum to review the fares or face the boycott.

The traders also accused the VLTC Management of bad operational practices that endangered their lives; lack of consistent and regular maintenance of the vessel and abusive and inhuman treatment of passengers.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency at Akosombo at the weekend, the traders led by Mrs Regina Mensah, Mr Daniel Sarbah, Secretary and Mr Samuel Asiedu, Welfare Chairman, appealed to Volta River Authority to come to their aid.

Reacting to the accusation, Mr Martin B. Agbemabiesse, VLTC Director of Finance and Administration, said due to operational difficulties the Company decided to increase its tariff by about 50 per cent with effect from May 1, 2004.

He said the new fares were: Kete-Krachi to Akosombo 250,000 cedis, Yeji to Akosombo 310,000 cedis, Hausakope to Akosombo 270,000 cedis per a bin containing about 500 tubers of yams.

Mr Agbemabiesse said the yam traders have always threatened to boycott the Company's services using their strength to resist any genuine review of tariff while they continued to control the movement of cargo to the detriment of the Company.

He, therefore, appealed to the traders to adopt a consultative posture instead of being confrontational, which would not be in the interest of both parties.

He acknowledged that the yam traders formed a major part of the Company's clientele, therefore the VLTC Management had over the years accorded them some privileges, which included the provision of additional barge during bumper harvest, changing operational time for the convenience of the yam traders to the detriment of other customers. Mr Agbemabiesse also accused the traders of operating a "mafia - monopolistic attitude" to control the transportation of yam by regulating the quantity to be shipped per-voyage.

He said the Company remained the cheapest mode of transporting food from the lakeside communities, even with the new increase in the fares. 03 May 04

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