Witnessed Instances of Perpetration of Open Corruption at Ghana Lorry Stations - So Shameful!
I am about to be self-persuaded that our current attempt at fighting corruption in Ghana is mere rhetoric, if not a political gimmick. Corruption, bribery and extortion are so ingrained in the Ghanaian system that wherever you go or turn to, you are met with them baring their sharp Dracula fangs at you.
As much as many people believe that corruption must be effectively fought from the top which I do agree with them a 100%, it can simultaneously be fought from the bottom as well. Yes, it is said even in the bible that when the head is sound, the entire body is sound and the reverse is true when the head is sick. Therefore, fighting corruption from the top by way of leadership by example is the most effective way of curtailing, if not eliminating, the ramifying malpractices of corruption from Ghana.
I must admit, it is not easy to fight corruption in Ghana but that must not dissuade us from garnering the strength and desire to fight it. Should our politicians who are the leaders of the nation live exemplary corrupt-free lives worthy of emulation, corruption can be eradicated from Ghana in less than no time.
Today’s write-up is about my witnessed encounters of two corruptions at the lower level having to do with some approved or otherwise, attendants, at our commercial lorry stations or ranks. On a day in March 2019, I was on board a "trotro" mini bus from Kumasi Kejetia to Maase. Prior to that I could see the driver of the bus and his mate furious at a man at the lorry rank. The man was shouting at them to move away. They were responding to his orders by saying the place is not his and that he has no right to dictate to them by not allowing them to ensure the bus was full of passengers before they move out of the station.
I am not a fan of sitting in the driver’s cabin when I board a passenger bus but this day again, I was seated in the front with the driver and one other passenger. From the discussions between the driver and the mate, I could see that something was not right. They were angrily discussing that chubby man at the station who ordered them to move out of the lorry rank while they were still loading the bus. Being a bit inquisitive, I asked the driver what the problem was. He told me the man they were angry at is an employee of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) manning the station. However, he collects non-receipted sum of GHS2.00 (two Cedis) from each driver loading and departing from the station each time you load passengers from the station. This means if you load from the station ten times a day, he will collect from you 2 x 10 Cedis a day, thus GHS20.00.
I asked how come that he does not give them receipt and how does he account for the money to the GPRTU? The driver told me he does not account for the money to anyone. He keeps the money for himself despite the fact that he is paid officially by GPRTU. He went on further to tell me that every morning each driver pays GHS7.00 for the whole day on their bus for loading from and to that station. That is the official rate. Out of the GHS7.00, GHS5.00 goes to GPRTU and GHS2.00 goes to the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), he said.
Rockson: Then the man must be making huge illegal money a day. Why should you drivers pay him knowing what he is doing is illegal?
Driver: That was the reason why my mate and I were resisting the payment and he got annoyed, forcing us out of the station.
Rockson: If his action is illegal, why don’t you collectively as drivers plying the station refuse to pay him that fee?
Driver: Some of the drivers cannot be bothered. Majority of them do support him and us the few dissenting ones are constantly being harassed by him.
Rockson: Ok, I shall help you guys. I may escalate it to get him to stop enriching himself at your expense
Driver: Even he comes there on Sundays to collect and issue receipts for the official daily GHS7.00 fee whereas, on Sundays, no other stations charge the drivers for using the stations. The GPRTU members don’t come on Sundays but he does, and then continues to take the usual GHS2.00 per load per bus.
For the attention of the public, please note that the buses going to Masse from that Kejetia station do charge GHS2.50 per passenger. On mentioning that I could help to cause investigations into the man’s illegal actions if what they were telling me was the absolute truth, the driver said, thank you, please do help us if you could.
Just at the driver saying thank you to me, a certain man sitting right in the row behind the driver’s cabin in the passengers' area, politely told the mate, tell him (Rockson) how much you charge for a trip from Kejetia to Maase and how much you take from Maase to Kejetia. Why is it that you take GHS2.50 from Kejetia to Maase but GHS2.20 on the other way round? Is the regulated GPRTU charge per passenger from both ways not GHS2.20 each? Why do you charge GHS2.50 from Kejetia? You are thankful to him for promising to help you but you, on the other hand, are also cheating the passengers, the man said.
Rockson: Turning my head backward, I beckoned to the mate to give me a change of GHS0.30 (30 pesewas) if indeed the official rate per passenger is GHS2.20. The 30 pesewas is nothing to me but for the sake of being principled and the quest of fighting extortion or corruption in whatever form they take, I requested the refund of the 30 pesewas if truly, the official rate is GHS2.20 each way.
Two male passengers in the very back row seats raised their voice saying, "The charge is GHS2.50, regardless. Everyone has paid the same charge so you cannot ask for any refund. I turned my head around to look them in the eye and said, "It is not always that the majority is right. Have you ever heard of the saying? The fact that all of you have each paid GHS2.50 does not justify the collection of the charge if indeed it is officially GHS2.20. How do we fight abuses in Ghana if you will continue to support wrongdoing and then turn round to blame the government for the hardships and the corruption which are rife in the country?
The first male passenger who in a clever way alerted me to the abuses by the drivers as well said earlier, asked the passengers, "have you heard what the man (Rockson) has said? He says it is not always that the majority is right. And, this is true"
As soon as I said that axiom without lambasting them any further, those two men looked at me with expressionless face and voice. Where they alighted from the bus, I could not tell. The last time I turned to look back, they were no longer on the bus.
Yes, about a week later, I purposely went to the station at Kejetia to investigate what the driver and his mate had alleged against the "extortionist" station attendant. When I called at the station, the few drivers that first saw me thought I had come to board a bus. When I said no, and started asking them questions, pertaining to my inquiries into the allegations made against the unknown man but who they establish to be the GPRTU employee superintending the station, the drivers were not forthcoming with answers. I could see them scared of me; not knowing who I was.
Similarly, when I visited Konongo the next day, I witnessed a similar problem. The bus I boarded in the centre of the town, parked and loading on the side of the Kumasi/Accra main road by the Methodist Church, had the driver fuming. When the bus was full, a certain man on the ground had demanded GHS10.00 from the driver for loading from the place. The driver refused him payment. The man was shouting, threatening that he would ensure the driver never came back there to load his bus. The driver said he would decide either to go there to park and load or not without the man having any authority to ban him from there as the road does not belong to him.
Some people are perpetrating acts of corruption and extortion at the lorry stations. They must be checked and flushed out same as we would like to see happen to our known corrupt politicians.
Would the GPRTU leaders investigate the extortion of drivers by one of their employees at the Kumasi Kejetia – Maase/Tabuom, Tafo 4 Miles, etc. station, or it is just the case of that employee extorting the drivers and sharing the proceeds with the other members of the association and/or its leadership? The drivers must speak out and refuse any such illegal payments to these crooks within the GPRTU or the Progressive Transport Owners’ Association (PROTOA).
I may escalate this to the attention of the leadership of GPRTU since passengers end up footing the greed of their corrupt members. The drivers at that trotro station don’t give many hoots about it why because by charging the passengers 30 pesewas extra per passenger, the drivers after paying that man his GHS2.00 per load by bus, still end up earning about GHS3.00 for themselves as against when loading from Maase to Kejetia.
Stay tuned for more info from my holiday to Ghana.
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