There has been a general pandemonium and disappointments in the ruling government led by President Akufo-Addo after the decision to ease the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions on commercial transport system (Trotro& taxis).
While others sees the easing as a deceit, others are of the view that, transport fares should be revert to the original state or restore the trotro restrictions.
Prior to the announcement of the easing of the trotro restrictions on COVID-19, there has been an increase in transport fares of 15% across the board.
Some commercial drivers even increased the fares arbitrarily above the approved 15%, thereby creating confusing in trotros between drivers and their conductors (mates) on one side and passengers on the other side.
But in all these, the masses were for the increment because in the COVID-19 restrictions, commercial drivers worked at a loss because they were forced to reduce the number of passengers on a seat.
Per the directives, some of which was under the Imposition of Restrictions Act and a Legislative Instrument 64 (LI), all passenger carrying-vehicles, including taxis seating 1-3 passengers in a row were compelled to seat not more than two passengers in a row.
All passenger carrying-vehicles seating 1-4 passengers on a row were mandated to seat not more than three passengers on a row and all passenger carrying vehicles seating 1-5 passengers in a row were mandated to seat not more than three passengers in a row.
This, indeed, brought a lot of untold hardships on commercial drivers and their vehicle owners, but the atmosphere in trotro was siren one because passengers were not crowded and parked like a sardine on seats.
Therefore, the 15% increment in transport fares which took effect from Saturday, July 11, 2020, was a welcome one for passengers.
But the disappointment came when three weeks after the increment in transport fares, the President announce, among others, in his 14th address to the nation on COVID-19 pandemic, that, “in consultation with the Ministries of Transport and Aviation and the leadership of transport operators, Government has taken the decision to lift the restrictions in the transport sector, and allow for full capacity in our domestic airplanes, taxis, trotros and buses. The wearing of masks in vehicles and aircrafts, and the maintenance of enhanced hygiene protocols, remain mandatory”.
Most passengers have raised an eyebrow on the announcement because they believe it is a cheat and deceptive for the President to take such a decision.
The fares were increased because the trotro drivers and taxis were losing in sales or revenue because of the reduction in a number of passengers, so they therefore welcomed it, but the situation where the restrictions have been eased, yet passengers continue to pay the new fare is a cheat and disappointing.
I am of the view that the government, through the Transport Ministry, should as a matter of urgency, prevail on the transport operators to reduce the fares or the restrictions on trotro be reinstated.
But my candid opinion is that transport fares should be made to stay as it is now but rather, restore the COVID-19 restrictions on trotro and taxi.
In this way, the fight against the COVID-19 may be easy for the government and health sector because the piling up of passengers in trotro and taxis are going to compound the spread of COVID-19 which will worsen the infection rate of COVID-19.
Mr. President, I join the many or the masses in expressing our disappointment in the decision to ease such restrictions and therefore urged you and your government to rescind such a decision.
The Writer is a Producer/Editor with the Media General [Onua TV & Onua] but views expressed in the article do not reflect the editorial policies of the company.
By Kweku Antwi-Otoo
The writer is a Producer/Editor with the Media General [Onua TV & Onua]