STC’s ROLE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST NOVEL COVID-19 PANDEMIC.
By Reindolf Amankwa
On Friday, 27th March 2020, the president of the republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo officially announced a partial lockdown of some parts of Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi Metropolis and other places suspected to have cases of the Coronavirus pandemic.
His announcement came with certain conditions. These conditions were put in place as diplomatic measures necessary and appropriate to ease any pressures that may be foiled by the lockdown. These conditions were also meant to avoid any further spread of the deadly virus therefore reducing mass human contacts through movement.
The conditions include but not limited to: staying at home for the next fourteen days except to get essential life items such as food, water and medicine; to undertake banking transactions or to use public toilet facilities. Citizens, within the fourteen days of lockdown are also encouraged to avoid any intercity movement of vehicles or aircraft for private or commercial purposes; avoid carrying additional persons if you’re a motorbike rider; practice social distancing in all instances; avoid any public gathering.
Regardless of the advice given against the use of intercity transport which is intended to reduce the risk of mass horizontal spread of the virus in the country, commercial vehicles are permitted to operate within reasonable safety precautionary measures put in place by GPRTU.
These precautions are founded on the social distancing order. By this, transport operators (Trotro, Taxi, Uber) are required to reduce the number of passengers they carry. Nonetheless, the reduction in the number of passengers they carry comes without a relative reduction in sales made to transport owners.
This directive did not also come with an increase in transport fares neither did it come with a corresponding reduction in fuel prices over the period of lockdown. In short, it means trotro and taxi drivers would likely stop operating any moment after the first day of the lockdown if sales made to transport owners remain constant without a corresponding increase in transport fares.
Their fall out from business will mean a possibility of the few operating market sellers not having buyers to purchase their food commodities because there will be no trotro or taxi to transport these buyers to the market centres. Such circumstances will only bring about a more than deadly crisis which believably is not what we want to create in these times.
There is a solution that needs to be executed as quickly as possible before things get out of hand. The State Transport Cooperation (STC), as a matter of urgency, must step in to salvage the situation even before its occurrence and fostering. STC must at this point deploy all its available vehicles for a 24 hours 7 days shuttle services within the areas of the lockdown.
This is the time to test our systems in all facets but most importantly to ascertain whether or not Ghana could operate a state owned transport that matches the European state owned transport systems. So, if there were no Trotros, would Ghana’s transport system survive; be adequately productive; or economically proficient.
Member, CTI-Middle Belt