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14.02.2005 Regional News

Sunyani taxi drivers cheat passengers

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Sunyani (B/A) Feb. 14, GNA - Most taxi drivers in Sunyani have taken advantage of an artificial shortage of fuel in the municipality to over-load their vehicles.

The situation is worse from 1700 hours onwards when most workers have closed and struggle to get home.

Instead of the normal four passengers, the drivers now take as many as six passengers, four at the back and two at front. The workers have had to suffer the inconvenience in silence since they stood the risk of being left behind if they protested. Some of them have also adopted cunning methods of charging above the approved fares.

A passenger told the GNA that a taxi driver on Monday forced passengers to pay 2,000 cedis each instead of the approved fare of 1,500 cedis from Abesim to Sunyani because, according to him, he had no change for them. Only two fuel filling stations were found busily selling fuel during a tour the GNA took through Sunyani and there were long queues of vehicles waiting to be served.

They were the Zambrama Filling Station near Tata Hotel on the Sunyani-Liberation Barracks road and one at the Regional Coordinating Council offices.

Filling stations GNA visited in the morning including Total, Texaco and Mobil were found without fuel.

But by 1200 hours news had flashed through the municipality that the Mobil station was selling petrol but without diesel and in a twinkle of an eye the station was virtually flooded with "fuel-thirsty" drivers who formed almost a mile-long queue. Ms. Naomi Achiaa, an attendant at the station told the GNA that the station had enough petrol but due to a faulty pumping machine it had not been able to operate for the past two weeks.

Mr. George Kwasi Kwarteng, Manager of the Total Filling Station said the last consignment to the station got exhausted four days ago. He said a driver sent to Tema for another consignment was yet to return.

Other managers of filling stations GNA talked to denied allegations of "hoarding" in anticipation of a hike in the price of fuel in this year's budget.

"The truth is that the various filling stations have not been getting consignments on time and the delays had increased the demand for the commodity", one of them explained..

Meanwhile, an official of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) of TUC has advised members and commercial drivers not to hide behind the artificial shortage of fuel to cheat passengers.

"The management of the union will deal ruthlessly with any driver caught in the act", the official warned. 14 Feb. 05

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