Commercial drivers in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis of the Western Region are not enthused about the decision by the government to abolish tolls on all public roads and bridges.
In the view of the drivers, the government could look for avenues to make the toll system work effectively to generate more revenue rather than abolishing it completely.
The Finance Minister, Mr. Ken Ofori Atta disclosed during the 2022 budget presentation in Parliament on Wednesday announced the abolishing of tolls on all public roads and bridges.
“Over the years, the tolling points have become unhealthy market centres, led to heavy traffic on our roads, lengthened travel time from one place to another, and impacted negatively on productivity”, the Finance Minister said.
However, the drivers believed that the toll system had the potential to generate enough revenue and create employment for some people especially the disabled if properly managed.
“We are comfortable paying the road tolls, we have not complained, we want to see a reduction in prices of fuel. The price of fuel keeps soaring”, the drivers said in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Thursday.
According to them, though the news was welcoming, they would have been happier if the government had announced a reduction or removal of some of the taxes on petroleum products because prices of fuel affected everything.
The drivers noted that not all of them ply on the route where there were toll booths while some drivers also pay tolls three times or more before they reached their destination.
“There are some roads that do not have toll booths so drivers there do not pay a toll. There are others where drivers pay three or more tolls”, Nana Akai, Second Trustee of the GPRTU Takoradi -Cape Coast Station said.
“We believe that it is not fair. If the government wants to do something that will benefit all drivers, then it should reduce fuel prices”, he added.
Mr Francis Quarshie, First Trustee of the GPRTU Takoradi Cape Coast Station also reiterated “when fuel prices go up, we the drivers bear the wrath of passengers so the government should do something about it”.
He complained about the poor condition of most of the roads they ply on and urged the Government to work towards addressing the bad road network in the country.
Mr Emanuel Mensah, a driver bemoaned how they regularly visit the garage for maintenance due to the bad roads they ply on, coupled with an increase in spare parts.
For her part, Madam Cecilia Toboh, a concerned citizen, worried about how the Government was going to get money to undertake its road infrastructure project.
According to her, the toll system played a crucial role in funding the expansion of Ghana’s road infrastructure and therefore the Government could not dispute the fact that it was getting some substantial revenue from the toll system.
Madam Tobah, like the drivers, wants Government to rather establish more toll booths at vantage points in the country, put in place effective monitoring mechanisms to derive maximum revenue.