Dear transport operators,
Please pardon my lack of formality, but I rushed to write this crucial letter to you in response to President Akufo-Addo’s call for us to be “citizens not spectators” during his inauguration speech on January 7, 2017.
Yes, I am a citizen by birth and by blood because everyone in my family is from Ghana, a wealthy country.
I’m writing to let you know about something that occurs at some bus stations across the nation that you may have heard about or maybe witnessed. My hands and lips, however, can’t wait to report and ask a few questions.
Permit me to ask a few questions of you, the Ghana Private Road and Transport Union (GPRTU), the Concerned Drivers Association of Ghana (C-DAG), and other notable public transportation providers in the nation. Unless the question is rhetorical, I won’t press for an answer further.
Who are these “unofficial task forces” at bus stations?
When a truck or bus decides to stop at a few bus stops or viewpoints in Ghana, to convey another group of passengers to their destinations or to allow some passengers to disembark at their bus stops, it is incredibly wonderful to the eyes and ears.
While you may hear some young men join the conductors to assist in loading the bus or truck with passengers, you may also see “some” men who believe they are stronger than Tom Stoltman suddenly appear with stretched-out hands as if to give a gift to the conductor or the passengers while actually having an agenda to rob the conductors under the guise of being “task forces” and collect money.
The conductor or the driver will suffer the consequences if they refuse to pay their “taxes”; you may be beaten or forced to urge the passengers to disembark the cars since they, the conductor and the driver, have both refused to pay their unaccounted-for taxes.
When I look at some of them, I can tell that I am many years older than them, and they’ll stop us from leaving. Can you picture it? Hmm
Recently, I witnessed a transaction between a bus conductor and one of these guys at the Obra Spot at Circle. Where after loading a vehicle, the guy demanded that the conductor pays GH₵ 20 for his service rendered.
The furious mate protested over the amount demanded and hesitated to make the payment. The group of guys around was ready to attack the guy for not wanting to make payment. The driver then interceded and settled the guys before the vehicle was allowed to move.
Why isn’t any action taken by your group, aren’t your people complaining?
It serves them right, ain’t you drivers the cause of this, is a common phrase you will hear from passengers when such incidents occur.
Other passengers support the drivers and conductors by remarking in the local dialect that “Thieves, this is all you people know, you won’t go out to hunt for better jobs?” If they ask and you don’t give them, will they kill you?
This is getting worse since new people are being hired every day for the “job,” which is fine if it provides work for some young men, but not at the expense of stealing Peter to pay Paul.
Are the MTTD aware?
They seem to be, but I’m not sure if it’s their responsibility to put an end to this behavior.
Yours faithfully, A proud citizen of Ghana.
Source: Rebecca Tetteh