Live From the Woods: The Troubles of Transportation Fare Increments in Ghana

Kwabena Brako-Powers (Author, Blogger, Thinker, Life-Enthusiast, Traveler)
It’s been an old tradition in Ghana for passengers, bus conductors, and ‘mates’ to quarrel among one another whenever there’s fare increment due to increase in fuel prices across the country. Governments have been bold to disregard what others referred as ‘election year’ to carry out some of these price adjustments across board. As though they are not scared to be voted out, they go about this without regards to the living conditions of the citizens. One of the major reasons for the defeat of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) during the 2008 Presidential Election was the insane act of reducing fuel prices after President Kufuor’s government had tightened Ghanaians to the point of suffocation. That era and today’s Mahama’s era are at variance.

Evil days in Ghana:

However, this is a bad time for President Mahama, especially, when he’s one such president who’s been bad mouthed across the length and breadth of the country for his poor leadership showing – even in his own National Democratic Congress (NDC). A decision or the lack thereof that would add up to the burden of the people must be done away with as quickly as possible. Ghanaians do not deserve to be punished, and tossed about as though ignoble objects to be pushed around. Nobody has the exclusive rights to rule over Ghanaians. The people make rulers, and rules. Fundamental concepts such as these must be respected.
Drama in Accra Car:
On Friday, I sat in a blue Sprinter bus to Circle when a man began to rain insult on the ‘mate’ for extorting an exorbitant fare from him. He said he paid GHC1.20ps from Mallam Junction to Weija SCC, but the ‘mate’ is demanding GHC1.40ps from him for the same distance. The ‘mate’ looked away. I saw the muscles on his face contract. The smile he had on had given up. “It is 1.40ps now”, the ‘mate’ said. A lady in the front seat cut in to take a bit of the ‘mate’, when the man blamed her for giving the money to him. Without any description, I realized the man was with her. I sat quietly, and like a sponge soaked in the fanfare churned out in the vehicle. The ‘mate’ appeared a no nonsense man I reckoned. He threatened another passenger of getting him out of the car if he doesn’t add up his fare. That was the last time I heard the man’s voice or when he gave a daring chuckle after the mate’s threat.

Everybody is Right, Nobody is Wrong:
There was silence till the man heading for Mallam Junction, again, blamed the woman for giving the money to the ‘mate’ without finding out the cost. They argued and went quiet when we got to McCarthy Hill till they got down at Mallam Junction. I led out a quiet smile when they got down. A man sitting by me replied. “This will continue for the next two weeks”, I said looking at him. He smiled. “We have to learn to adjust”, he responded. I nodded not knowing whether it was in an agreement with what he said, or what another passenger said about respecting the rights of mates. I know a typical vehicle in Accra would be filled with such pockets of quarrel, disagreements, and insults for the next two weeks till the reality began to form in the conscience of passengers that fares prices have been hiked. Price increments would always appreciate in Ghana. There’s something about us that says things should always be increased. There’s no backwards. The way remains forward.
In such a time like this, everybody wants to say something. Everybody wants to feel adequate, but nobody wants to listen to the other’s argument. It’s good to have a voice, but it’s equally important to let your ears do enough listening. Many a great disagreements could have been solved had the participants shown the readiness to listen to each other. Many at times, our ears plead us to give them the same amount of time we accord our mouth, but we ignore them for expediency.
Ghanaians have fading memories:
At least, I know fare prices would not be reduced anytime soon. Not now. Never. Unless President Mahama and his cohorts would want to repeat the unmanliness of President Kufuor – an act responsible for NPP’s debacle in the Presidential poll. Or unless he realizes that Ghanaians do not deserve to be punished like he’s done. If the latter reason motivates him to reduce fuel prices in the country, that would be so noble of him. If he stuck to the gun, that would be commendable with consequences too.
However, in all things, Ghanaians are said to be people with short and fading memories. They will forget. This, also, shall pass. Ghanaians will overcome. They will forget about everything, and be back as Ghanaians.
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