Some commercial drivers at Kaneshie have admitted turning one lane of the Kaneshie stretch into a loading point. They have however accused some members in authority of being behind the unlawful practice.
A welfare member of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) at the Kaneshie lorry station who decided to speak to The Independent team on grounds of anonymity said, they are aware it is illegal and unlawful. He however claimed, some people in authority at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly were permitting drivers to do so.
“If anyone doubts and does not believe it, why is the assembly not gathering task forces to clear these drivers from the road?, he asked.
There is even a police station here at Kaneshie and right under their noses, drivers have converted two lanes of a stretch that is to serve as a main road into a station, whiles nothing is being done and we want to believe there is no hand of a big man in it? he further quizzed.
A taxi driver involved in the act, Steven Eshun, said,, “Accra is now congested and we lack more stations in the city to enable us work. Due to that, we sometimes go to plead with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to give us a place we could use to work, to aid us feed our family.” This according to him, is the reason they are seen working from the roads and bus stops.
Commenting further, he said, various lorry stations in the capital were already choked, explaining why many drivers resort to working from the streets.
“We were told by the previous assembly that if we were able to gather about ten to twenty drivers, we would be given a permitted to run as a station.”
“Though we have permit from the authorities to run as a station on the Kaneshie lane, we are still hoping authorities will get us a place to work as we have been told.”
Speaking against the lane conversion into a station, a driver, Agya Osei, said “Government should treat this with urgency because even in times of emergency, drivers are unable to find their way out. I recall when an ambulance carrying a patient was delayed because it couldn’t manoeuvre its way from the congested lane. That poor patient passed out.”
“We also witnessed on different occasions, ambulances running into other vehicles because drivers were trying to find their way out of the terrible traffic caused on the road. This is why these drivers should be cleared off the road.”
“We shouldn’t wait for more harm to befall the country before we make the move, let’s do it now to ensure free flow on the way.”
Agya Osei claimed, when passengers alight from vehicles, they also struggle to find their way through the congestion. To make matters worse, he claimed when police personnel come around, they extort money from drivers for wrongful parking. In some cases, he claimed, police personnel would arrest drivers who struggle to find parking space.
Obed Asamoah, a road user, claimed this has been the norm since the days of former President Jerry John Rawlings.
Obed fingered Darkuman commercial drivers as the ones responsible for the lane conversion. “The drivers of these buses have blocked the lane right after the First Light bus-stop to the overpass, and due to that, we decided to have part of this lane used as our station to enable us cater for our family.”
Evans Yeboah, a driver, claimed government permits the drivers to be there as a form of consideration to gain solidarity.
Another who disagreed with him, noted, “I believe it is against the laws of Ghana for drivers to use our roads as their station and government cannot go against the law either by allowing people do the wrong thing. What do you think will happen if a driver of any vehicle loses control? Let’s not hide behind party colours to do the wrong thing.”
We discovered through another “trotro” driver who spoke on grounds of anonymity, most of the flouting drivers drive commercial vehicles supposedly belonging to some members of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly and “big men” in government.
“The police hardly get them to do the right thing by enforcing the law.”
Meanwhile, the Head of Communications at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Gilbert Nii Ankrah, has denied claims of these drivers.
According to him, the Assembly has not granted any permit for drivers to use the shoulders of the road as loading points or areas to pick up passengers.
“If you look on the Kaneshie stretch, the only drivers’ union that the Assembly has some level of engagement with are the drivers who ply Kaneshie to Takoradi with Ford vehicles. For these drivers, if you look at where they operate, it is outside the main road, so those are the only people the Assembly has some level of engagement with. But those on the entire stretch have no permit to run the place as loading points.”
Speaking on some accusations landed at the AMA doorstep, Mr. Nii Ankrah refuted claims that the Assembly takes money from drivers to operate on the stretch. Mr. Gilbert Nii Ankrah dared accusing drivers to produce any receipt issued to that effect.
“Some people may be taking money from the drivers and that has nothing to with the Assembly. But as I sit here, I can tell you on authority that the assembly has not granted any permit to any of them.” He forcefully stated.
According to the Head of Communications at AMA, sometime last year, the Mayor himself moved to that enclave to ensure these drivers were cleared off the road, to resolve the terrible traffic on that stretch.
He however disclosed to the team, the entire stretch does not belong to AMA.
“The road from First-Light to Kaneshie is within the jurisdiction of the Ablekuma Central Municipal Assembly, so they take care of that stretch. The other side is within the jurisdiction of AMA and that where we go in and enforce the law.”
“Periodically, the Mayor has been engaging the MTTD to ensure they move in as well, to clear those who normally use that stretch as loading points, resulting in the backlog of traffic.”
He also denied the accusation that the Assembly is not carrying out some of its obligations due to influence from government, or what is usually termed, “order from above.”
The Commander of the Kaneshie Division of the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD), DSP Elvis Bawa Sadongo, spoke with The Independent Ghana team.
According to him, the only reason these drivers are still there is because the Police Service does not want to create chaos in an attempt to correct the activity on the stretch.
“These drivers have been in the act for several years, some of them have been there not less than ten or twelve years and it is not because the Assembly derives some kind of revenue from them, that is why we are not clearing them. It is not wise to create chaos in managing a situation.”
“I am also aware the Mayor of Accra, Mohammed Adjei Sowah is very incensed with the drivers using the road as loading stops and there is also a firm instruction from the police administration to ensure that drivers do not use portions of the roads as loading stops.”
“Those instructions are there, but I do not know how you can envisage a situation where we get up one day and send all our troops and drive all those drivers on the road. It will create another chaos that will eventually hit back at us very badly and that is why we are working with the Assembly to find spaces elsewhere to move the drivers.”
The MTTD Commander also disclosed that, he had been working with the Ablekuma Central Municipal Assembly since he took office, to find ways to relocate the drivers. This has resulted in two of the Drivers’ Unions relocating.
“The Member of Parliament for Ablekuma Central, Ebenezer Gilbert Nii Narh Nartey, has been very helpful in this particular drive,” he said.
DSP Sadongo also said, in the long term, the impending construction of the Kaneshie overpass, when completed, will render those places unsuitable for parking of vehicles. “In the meantime, the Kaneshie MTTD are managing the situation.”
When asked how soon spaces would be provided for drivers to move, he said is the Assembly’s responsibility to determine that and not the Police Service. He quickly added, “when it comes to ensuring that these drivers move out after the space is provided, it will be done swiftly, since it is the mandate of the Police Service to ensure enforcement of the law.”
Ending the interview, he said the Police will not allow other groups to take advantage of the situation by creating more loading points on that stretch.
Source:theindependentghana.com | Akaboh Courage