A Ranking Member on the Roads and Transport Committee of Parliament, Kwame Governs Agbodza, wants the government to support private transport operators.
Describing them as essential workers in a Citi News interview, Mr. Agbodza said they could not be blamed for the rising transport fares given the prevailing circumstances.
“If you consider the fact that drivers are essential service providers, where is the relief out of the funds government received? So no one should blame the drivers. In fact, some of them are out of business.”
“Drivers are extremely stressed. I think the solution is with the government giving them some relief so they can bring down the prices,” Mr. Agodza said.
Urban transport operators reduced their passenger intake to promote social distancing because of the novel coronavirus spread.
The effect of this policy directed by the government was not felt as much as fuel prices dropped drastically to almost GHS4 per litre.
Oil prices saw its lowest drop since 1991 in March 2020 after Saudi Arabia started a price war with Russia by slashing its selling prices because of falling demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But with oil prices stabilising globally, fuel prices in Ghana have been rising steadily over the past two months.
The government thus approved a proposal from transport operators to increase transport fares by 15 percent after complaints by drivers.
A group calling itself the Concerned Drivers’ Union, however, disregarded this agreed increment and opted for a 30 percent increase.
The Ministry of Transport described the 30 percent increment as illegal.
Red flags from COPEC
The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) had warned that the government need to prepare for the expected increase in fuel prices.
It also acknowledged the effect fuel price increments were having on commercial drivers.
According to COPEC, the revenue made by drivers has decreased by between 25 percent to 40 percent during the pandemic.
It thus called for some government intervention.
“The Central Government can per this, introduce a chit or a coupon system to be administered by
the various transport unions for their memberships such that the various fuel stations will be reimbursed the difference between the agreed subsidy or percentage reduction on the fuel purchases by these public transport operators,” COPEC suggested in a statement.