COVID-19 Update: Public Transports to Reduce Number of Passengers Per Trip
Some stakeholders have been calling for some restructurings in various sectors of the country’s economy ever since the first coronavirus case was recorded in Ghana.
Among these calls included the reduction in the number of passengers that commercial buses ‘trotro’ should have per roll in order to properly observe the social distancing policy in public vehicles.
In an interaction with transport owners at the Jubilee House in Accra on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo indicated that it has become necessary for his government to engage transport owners to find ways through which their sector can make some compromises in the interest of public safety and health.
"You are responsible for moving our people around the country, private and public transport. So, comes the question: How are we going to organise it in such a way that our people can still move around but do so taking into account this disease that is ravaging the world? I want us to have a conversation to see the arrangements we can put in place to achieve same,” Nana Akufo-Addo said.
Operators of commercial buses have therefore decided to reduce the number of passengers they carry per roll by one from Thursday, March 26, 2020, as part of measures to ensure the implementation of social distancing in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
This basically suggests that the small buses that usually carry 3 passengers per trip will now carry 2 per roll whiles the big ones that normally carry 4 per roll will reduce to 3.
However, the Ghana Private Road Transport Union is pleading with the government to reduce fuel prices for commercial drivers to enable effective implementation of the new policy until normalcy returns.
In an interview, the Industrial Relations Officer of the Greater Accra branch of the GPRTU, Mr. Abass Ibrahim Moro, said the number of passengers can be reduced only if the government will put in place measures to assist drivers and transport owners.
He said “We are worried about the coronavirus and the way we load our vehicles– shoulder-by-shoulder and we’ve come out with a suggestion that the government should see what it can do to help us.
“On our own, we’ve asked our drivers to effective from tomorrow Thursday, 26 March, the three sitting capacity should be reduced to two while the four sitting capacity should be reduced to three.”
Mr. Abass, however, explained that if this is done without any compensation from the government, the drivers will stop working and there will be no cars available on the streets to transport Ghanaians.
“So, we are saying the government should see if there could be a coupon so that the fuel could be reduced so that we can meet the working demands,” he concluded.
What happens to the businesses of these public transport operators if fuel prices are not reduced?
Operators of commercial buses will make huge losses because they will be buying fuel at the normal price but due to the reduction in passengers per trip, they will not make their usual profits or even break even.