Boat operators on the River Oti in the Nanumba South District in the Northern Region have increased their fares following recent hikes in the price of petroleum products.
To be ferried across the river, motorbike riders have to pay between GH¢7 and GH¢10 cedis, instead of GH¢5.
Passengers, who were charged GH¢1 now have to pay GH¢3 to cross the river.
In the Northern Region, there are many communities across the Oti River who on a daily basis have to travel to Bimbilla for their businesses.
On Bimbilla market days, like today, the place is very busy as people cross the river on both sides.
Canoes and boats are used to ferry passengers and motorbikes across.
There is only one boat which carries 10 motorbikes and 30 passengers at the same time while the canoe carries 3 motorbikes and 10 passengers.
Boat operators at the river say the increase in the prices of fuel is affecting their work. They say their expenditure on fuel has increased astronomically.
Hudu Alhassan, a boat operator, said, “on market days like this, we don’t rest. We are always on the river, ferrying passengers across. We have increased the price because of fuel. We buy a lot because the machine consumes more fuel.”
“We used to buy GH¢30 fuel for the day, but now if you don’t buy GH¢80, you can’t work till the end of the day. So we are appealing to government to do something about it for us.”
Businesswomen who cross the river to Bimbilla market to carry out their business say they now spend outrageous amounts on fares.
They pay GH¢20 for motorbikes and GH¢8 for passengers.
Awabu Abdulai, a businesswoman crossing the river, said, “our main problem is the river and the fares we now pay. All our monies go into paying for transport because everything has increased and the motor kings and the boats have also increased their fares.”
“We are appealing to the government to construct the bridge across the river for us.”
Another businesswoman, Fusheina Mahama, said, “our road is now a problem. Now, if you don’t have money, you can no longer travel on this road. You pay for motor kings and the canoes.”
Motor king operators from the Bimbilla side who carry them to Bimbilla have also increased their fares.
One major challenge for passengers using the boats to cross is that there are no life jackets, a situation that puts the lives of passengers in danger.
Even more dangerous is the state of the boats, some of which are clearly not fit for purpose.
In some instances, passengers are seen scooping water out of the boats while on the river travelling.