Tension brews among drivers as Bimbisalah Cooperatives set to begin operation in Sekond-Takoradi

Eight transport operators including the Ghana Private Roads and Transport Union (GPRTU) and the Metro Mass Transit are accusing the Transport Manager of the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) Patrick Sebe of conniving with acting Mayor Kwabena Otchere Darko Mensah to grant another transport operator permit to operate against existing protocols.

The transport operators further claim that circumstances leading to the grant of the permit convince them that Mr Sebe and the acting mayor may have special relationship with the new transport operator.

“According to Mr. Patrick Sebe, a permit has been signed by Honorable Kwabena Otchere Darko Mensah(WR) Minister who is also the acting Metropolitan Chief Executive for the release of the terminal to a private operator after the MMT Board Chairman and the transport minister have all spoken against the act. This action is making us believe that the said permit is for himself and not for a private operator as said,” Western Region Manager of the Metro Mass Transit David Teye Tekutey said at a press conference.

He claimed that several meetings between the aggrieved transport operators and the Assembly have concluded that transport operators registered at EKMA cannot register again to operate at Sekondi-Takoradi and questioned why such conclusion is now being side-stepped.

“One transport operator Joy Services had wanted to bring buses to the terminal but the Assembly stopped them with the explanation that the terminal is too small to contain their buses because already Metro Mass is operating buses. Our question is what has changed?”

Western Region Chairman of the Ghana Private Roads and Transport Union Joseph Cudjoe, on his part, expressed worry that previous conducts by Bimbisalah Cooperatives have shown that it will be difficult for them to co-exist with other transport operators.

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“On Friday 29th April 2022 the same Bimbisalah Cooperatives led by Rasta came to the Takoradi-Kumasi GPRTU station with a team of thugs when a 45-seater bus which had passengers on-board and was about to set off to Kumasi to create pandemonium. All the passengers were made to get down and transferred into a bus belonging to Rasta. But for the intervention of the regional GPRTU leadership, the situation would have been bloody. Up till date, no one has been arrested or punished. We don’t know what else they will do should they come here to operate.”

He also recalled another incident where “in the struggle for justice, Rasta wounded some officials of MMT, GPRTU and others in 2018 at the EKMA transport terminal which incident led to MMT coming back to its former allocated bus terminal”.

“Hon. Kwabena Otchere Darko Mensah and Mr. Patrick Sebe are aware of these incidents but still want Rasta to come and operate with us, why?” he questioned.

He, therefore, appealed to the National Security to show interest in the issue and ensure that peace prevails in the region.

But in a response, Transport Manager Patrick Sebe described the allegations as unfounded, insisting that he has been meticulous, fair but firm in all dealings surrounding the granting of the permit to Bimbisalah Cooperatives.

“Bimbisalah Cooperatives was already operating in STMA in front of the Mankessim White House. You remember some years back STMA sent four transport operators to the Apremdo bus terminal to operate as part of efforts to revive the Apremdo market. Bimbisalah Cooperatives was among. But in recent times, these transport operators have been requesting to come back because business at Apremdo is very slow. So, three of them were granted permit to come back. We had a request from Bimbisalah Cooperatives to come back for the same reason the three others were talking about. We sent a team to the terminal and our investigations showed that indeed things were not going well there as sometimes it takes more than 6 hours for one bus to load.”

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He continued: “So we decided to grant them the permit. The other transport operators got wind of that and started agitating. So, we had to do further consultations and this took us 100 days. And in those engagements, both MMT and GPRTU were part. Only recently we went to the terminal and it was the MMT Manager who even showed us how the buses from Bimbisalah Cooperatives can park to ensure there is no chaos at the terminal. So, I am surprised where these allegations are coming from.”

Bimbisalah Cooperatives are set to begin operations on Monday, August 15.

When the GPRTU Regional Chairman, Joseph Cudjoe, was asked what their response will be should Bimbisalah Cooperatives start operations, he said: “We will certainly advise ourselves should that happen.”

By Eric Yaw Adjei|Connect FM|3news.com|Ghana