More than three years after the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) directed its various units to clear bus stops within the Accra metropolis of vehicles that park and pick passengers, the situation continues with some developing into mini-lorry parks with station masters.
There are at least 18 of such bus stops within the Accra metropolis with those at the Achimota Old Station and PTC Bus Stop near the GCB Bank Limited at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, converted into mini-lorry parks with ‘station masters’, carrying canes and deciding who picks passengers and who does not.
The MTTD had in February 2014 issued an ultimatum stipulating an April deadline to drivers parking at such bus stops to stop the practice or risk being dealt with by the police.
It did not work, neither did the police follow the talk with action.The Daily Graphic has in a number of publications drawn attention to the growing concerns over the conversion of bus stops into illegal trotro and taxi stations, a development which is partly responsible for the worsening traffic situation in parts of the metropolis.
But the newspaper’s checks show that the situation persists at the bus stops at the Abeka Junction near Peace FM; Dzorwulu Junction, the Accra Mall (Tetteh Quarshie Interchange); opposite the Max Mart supermarket; the 37 Military Hospital; the Nima Market; Vodafone offices and PTC Bus stop near GCB Bank at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle; the Kingsway Bus Stop, near the COCOBOD Head Office and Railways Bus stop, both in the central business district of Accra.
Others are at Movenpick Hotel, the Accra City Hotel (formerly Novotel Hotel), the Accra Fire Service, the Kaneshie Market Bus Stop under the walkover as well as almost all bus stops on the Kojo Thompson Road from the Okaishie traffic light.
Other bus stops where commercial vehicles pitch camp to ply their trade are; all the bus stops close to the Danquah Circle, the Labone Junction and, Paloma and Silver Cup bus stops.
Ironically, the Police Headquarters bus stop is not left out of the invasion, as commercial bus drivers defy the ‘One Minute’ sign to load their buses, sometimes in the full glare of the police.
It is common to find trotros and taxis parked for long periods at the designated bus stops. In the morning and evening rush hours, the vehicles usually overstay their welcome of ‘One Minute’, which is boldly displayed at bus stops, as the drivers’ mates solicit passengers.
When the rather small bus stops are full, other commercial drivers are compelled to stop on the shoulders of the roads, and in some cases the inner lanes, tomake passengers get down or pick passengers.
At the bus stop near the Vodafone offices and the one close to the Kwame Nkrumah Circle GCB, the recalcitrant drivers compete for space with traders selling carpets, food and books.
Apart from the congestions, there have also been turf battles between some trotro drivers and Aayalolo bus drivers over the bus stops.
“These Aayalolo drivers think they have more right over the bus stops than we do. We were in business before they came to erect their bus stop structures. It does not give them more right than us,” Mr Michael Awuku, a trotro driver, complained.
He said most drivers tended to spend more time loading at bus stops because they needed to break even in the face of increasing fuel prices.
For Mr Samuel Aryteetey who plies the Kanehsie-Circle route, the decision to use the bus stops at the Kaneshie Market was because there was no alternative. “The spaces here cannot contain us. We are left with no choice but to use these bus stops. In any case, we pay for loading here,” he claimed.
Mr Awuku who plies the Circle-Ofankor route also blamed the city authorities for failing to provide appropriate lorry parks.
At the jammed bus stop opposite Max Mart, a taxi driver, Mr Lionel Agboada, who said the bus stop was his station, said he was a floating driver who found that space more lucrative for his service. “I don’t see what these complaints areabout. When passengers from places such as Aflao alight and want a taxi, we are readily available. We don’t pose danger to anyone and it is not true that we cause traffic congestions. This road is a busy one,” he said.
Not AMA’s job
After the many Daily Graphic publications inm2014, the MTTD met stakeholders, including the National Road Safety Commission, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) and Progressive Transport Owners Association (PROTOA) and other transport unions to deliberate on the way forward.
It was at this meeting that the deadline was agreed upon by the stakeholders but not much has changed.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic the Public Relations Officer of the AMA, Numo Blafo Omaetu, said keeping the capital city’s bus stops sanitised was the responsibility of the MTTD, since they enforced the road traffic regulation.
“The MTTD is on the road checking violations of the law. They are the best people to deal with this issue,” he said, adding that the AMA had no bye-laws on bus stops hence was constrained.
Efforts to get the MTTD to speak to the issue did not yield results as the Accra Central Commander, DCOP Mr Adu Amankwaah, told the Daily Graphic that he was on leave.