September 28, 2020

Call for transport fares reduction is not a ‘bad call’ – Oppong Nkrumah

The Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has said public calls for a reduction in transport fares following the government’s decision to relax the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions and allow public transports to load their full capacity is “not a bad call.”

Transport fares were recently adjusted by 15 percent following a justification by transport operators that they were making losses because the COVID-19 protocol restricted them from loading to their full capacity because of the need to observe social distancing in vehicles.

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Apart from fuel cost, the transport operators used social distancing to justify the need for an adjustment in transport fares.

Therefore following an agreement between the government and transport operators in respect of the reduction of passengers in public transport in line with social distancing protocols, fares were increased by 15 percent on July 11, 2020.

The transport operators had proposed an increment of 50 percent with the explanation that they were making losses but the 50 percent was rejected.

On Sunday night, July 26, 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced further easing of COVID-19 restrictions covering congregational worshipping, entertainment sites, transport operations and football activities.

The President explained that life could not be put on hold indefinitely once it was clear that until treatment was found, the COVID-19 would remain a part of the life of the people.

Perhaps the transport sector enjoyed the biggest share of the meat when President Akufo-Addo said, “the government has taken the decision to lift the restrictions in the transport sector and allow for full capacity in our domestic airplanes, taxis, trotros and buses.”

Nonetheless, he indicated, the wearing of masks in vehicles and aircraft and the maintenance of enhanced hygiene protocols remained mandatory.

The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) for instance has been at the forefront since the announcement was made Sunday night calling on commercial transport operators to reduce their fares immediately as they return to their normal loading capacity.

So to Mr Oppong Nkrumah, if the social distancing has been reduced for transport operators, it was understandable for the public to call for a reduction in transport fares.

“So it is not a bad call,” the Minister said in a radio interview on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme Monday afternoon, July 27, 2020 and monitored by Graphic Online.

He expressed the hope that going forward the Ministry of Transport and transport operators will table the issue for discussion and consider if it will be possible to revert to the previous prices or decide that it should be factored in case of any future price increases.

“One thing that we can be sure of is that social distancing cannot become the reason for any potential future increases in transport fares,” he said and added that even if the stakeholders do not immediately agree on reducing the recent increases, social distancing can no longer be used as a justification for fare increases because capacities in vehicles were reduced to about 50 percent.

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Source: General News

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