Ghanaians have been urged to adopt more eco-friendly and digitally-accessible modes of transport as efforts to tackle climate change ramp up globally.
The Country Manager of Treepz, a multinational bus-hailing company, Isidore Portupe says it is imperative that Ghanaians are able to move about safely and conduct their businesses in a manner that does not endanger the environment.
Speaking at an event to unveil Treepz’s plans to launch an electric transport programme on Friday, he stated that this strategy would help address the country’s transport concerns in a sustainable manner.
Over the past year the company has been planning and implementing ways to decongest in cities by encouraging Ghanaians to group travel using the buses on its platform “rather than seeking single occupancy vehicles.”
With their buses being accessed on digital platforms and with consumers also able to pay for services digitally via Mobile Money, Treepz has also made a significant mark in Ghana’s overall digital agenda. The availability of more electric buses helps to solve more more than just transportation and congestion problems, Mr. Portupe explained.
Polluted air-related conditions account for 40% of diseases in hospitals and Treepz’s strategy helps to address this, with the smoke usually associated with fuel-powered vehicles, absent from its buses.
“As more people use the buses, it means our air is less-polluted. This also means that our hospitals won’t be filled with polluted air-related diseases,” he added.
“As we deploy more e-buses, we also invest directly or indirectly in job creation for drivers and for value added service providers like mechanics. Especially with the e-bus programme that we are currently deploying, we are creating an additional economy.”
At the event on Friday which doubled as a celebration of the company’s first year in Ghana, Treepz commended the government for creating an enabling environment for it to set-up and start its operations in Ghana.
“Treepz has been operating for the past three years across three African countries; Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana. Today marks exactly one year in Ghana and for us, this was an opportunity to interact with the public and our stakeholders and give an account of what we have been doing for the past three years. I believe that it’s fair to engage our stakeholders,”Mr. Portupe.
“I must say that the policy environment is not stifling of innovation. In other cases you receive a letter from the government asking you to stop operating this service. This happened in Kenya and in Nigeria but it was not the case in Ghana, which is why I believe it’s an enabling environment,” he said.
He, however, did indicate that more engagement was necessary on making the e-buses more mainstream, a situation which would help tackle an issue like the impact of the hikes in fuel prices.
“Beyond regulation, there are questions around the financial liability of the industry that we need to address in Ghana. The rising price of fuel is a nightmare for operators in the industry. Our solution is the deployment of e-buses which they are also working on themselves, to have a policy position on.
One concern Treepz faced when it initially began operations in Ghana was whether it would be able to co-exist with the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU).
Those concerns have been brushed away with the two parties looking forming a key partnership in Ghana’s transport sector.
The General Secretary of the GPRTU, Godfred Abulbire, who was at the event on Friday, said his outfit is looking forward to collaborating more with Treepz on its electric bus programme as it could greatly benefit the Union’s drivers as well.
“We all saw the idea to be good. When the test vehicles were brought and we saw that, if we adopt same, it will help all of us. It’s just that we need the recharge points dotted along the routes just like the fuel stations.
The company started operations in September 2019 and launched in Ghana on 16th September, 2021.
By March 2022, Treepz had recorded one million bookings; it has currently had about two million bookings so far.