Members of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) stationed at the Achimota Transport Terminal have threatened to vacate the premises and go back into the streets due to what they described as low patronage.
They attribute the low patronage to the refusal of many public transport drivers and passengers to patronise the well-constructed terminal.
Mr. Ben Anti-Boahene, Chairman of the Achimota main branch of G.P.R.T.U in an interview with The Finder, described the situation as unfortunate and added that if the trend does not immediately change, then they will have no option but to go back into the streets to also operate.
Mr. Boahene continued that the current trend defeats the purpose for which the terminal was constructed. “This terminal was constructed and inaugurated in December 2009to reduce the heavy vehicular traffic on the Accra-Nsawam stretch” he remarked and added that refusal of other commercial transport drivers to operate from the terminal was taking a huge toll on their operations especially on their finances.
According to him, prior to the construction of the terminal, there was heavy vehicular traffic on some parts of the Accra-Nsawam road, especially around the Achimota station which is now known as Old station and the Apenkwa Interchange.
“The situation was so bad that it took commuters longer periods to reach shorter distances. In a bid to deal with that challenge, the Achimota terminal was constructed” the Achimota terminal branch Chairman of G.P.R.T.U stated.
He told this paper that as part of moves to reduce vehicular traffic on that stretch, there was an understanding between their union and some state agencies that commercial drivers are not allowed to pick passengers between ‘Neoplan’ right up to the Apenkwa area. He was quick to state that drivers are, however, allowed to alight passengers at bus stops located within the aforementioned areas.
He explained that as a union, they have formally complained to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, written to the Transport Ministry and other government agencies that are stakeholders with a view to getting the challenge addressed.
He regretted that even though they were given assurances that no commercial driver will be allowed to pick passengers around those areas, others continue to do that.
He pointed out that they pay tax to the state yet they continue to experience low patronage while other commercial drivers who do not pay tax to the state continue to defy directives and continue to operate within areas they are barred from doing so.
He lauded the effort of a task force, which comprises of the police, members of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly and the transport union in Achimota, for the yeoman’s job they are doing in arresting and disciplining recalcitrant commercial drivers
He, however, called for stiffer punishment for culprits, adding that the GH¢100 flat fee recalcitrant drivers are made to pay when arrested for picking passengers seem too little hence the continued indisciplined practice.
“We have some of our branded vehicles parked at those illegal bus stops to convey passengers to this terminal for free all in a bid to encourage them to patronise the terminal yet people are not heeding to that,” he stressed.
Mr. Anti-Boahene said plea to drivers from the northern part of the country not to offload goods bought by traders at the Achimota old station but rather bring them to the Achimota terminal seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
He said the terminal, which is managed by a company by name Koajay, is one of the best within the sub-region as it is fully equipped with toilet facilities, a police station to safeguard the security of passengers, a canteen to cater for eateries and a clinic where passengers could be treated for various ailments.