Drivers defy GPRTU directive - Drug peddling rife on vehicles

BY: Charles Andoh
Drivers defy GPRTU directive - Drug peddling rife on vehicles
Drivers defy GPRTU directive - Drug peddling rife on vehicles

Commercial drivers in Accra have failed to implement fully a directive by the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) not to allow peddling of drugs of any form on their vehicles.

In February, this year, the GPRTU in a statement signed by the Deputy General Secretary in charge of Administration, Mr George Ofori-Davis, asked all its members in Accra not to allow drug peddling in any form on their vehicles, failure of which would attract sanctions from the authorities.

Clear defiance

But seven months after the order, The Mirror can confirm that the drivers have defied the directive as they continue to allow peddlers to sell all sorts of drugs to passengers on board their vehicles.

The situation is widespread on the Kasoa to Accra road, Awoshie to Accra stretch, Awoshie to Tema Station, Accra to Achimota and the Kasoa to Lapaz stretch.

Peddlers have also invaded markets and pavements such as Kaneshie, Circle, Tema Station, Odorkor and the Graphic road to engage in their activities.

Others also move from one community to the other selling all manner of drugs and concoctions in bottles, on trucks and wheel barrows.

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A driver who plies the Kasoa to Accra route and identified himself as Kwesi said even though he had heard of the directive, he could not stop the peddlers when they joined his vehicle.

Another explained that: “I cannot sack them when they join my car because they don’t tell me that they are coming to sell drugs when they join.”
A trader who sells herbal medicine on the Graphic Road pavement said she believed the drugs sold were effective because people had tried them and given testimony about them.

This reporter bought a number of the drugs (name withheld for security reasons) from the market and vehicles during the investigation which included herbal creams, tablets, powder, and ointments.

While some were locally made, others were imported.

All these drugs were later identified by the FDA as not authentic and questionable since none of them had been registered and licensed for sale on the market by the authority at the time of the visit.

Potency of drugs

In an interview, the Head of Communications of the FDA, Mr James Lartey, questioned the potency of a lot of the drugs sold in the open.

He emphasised that the laws of Ghana frowned on drug peddling in any form.

He reminded the drivers that the peddling of drugs on commercial vehicles was a clear violation of section 118(1) of the Public Health Act 2012- Act 851.

The Act states that A person shall not manufacture, prepare, import, export, distribute, sell, supply or exhibit for sale a drug, herbal medicinal product, cosmetic, medical device or household chemical substance unless the article has been registered by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).

Mr Lartey indicated that the potency of drugs usually sold in the open were questionable because the FDA had not screened them to know of their efficacy, and that was dangerous for human consumption.

“I will advise people not to buy medicines from these peddlers because you cannot tell whether the drugs you are buying are genuine or not. You can’t also trace it when you encounter problems after taking in the drug,” he said.

On the GPRTU directive, even though Mr Lartey said the FDA was aware and welcomed the decision, he believed the message might have not gone down well with the drivers, noting that the authority would collaborate with the GPRTU and other sister unions to combat the activities of the peddlers.

“On the side of the FDA, we will continue with our swoop exercises. But we have found that the best solution is to continue to engage the public and educate them.

“If the general public is well educated and made aware of the dangers of buying and taking in these drugs, they will avoid them,” he stated.

GPRTU response

Reacting to the story, the National Chairman of the GPRTU, Mr Kwame Kuma, asked The Mirror to report the case to the various regional offices across the country for them to pick the case up and follow up on it later.