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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Minister tastes first trotro ride in 15 years

Mr Joe Gidisu, Minister of Roads and Highways struggling with others to catch a seat on a trotro
Mr Joe Gidisu, Minister of Roads and Highways struggling with others to catch a seat on a trotro

Some VIPs in the country, including ministers and Members of Parliament (MPs), Wednesday, October 28, 2009, parked their luxurious cars and joined public transport to their various offices.

This was in commemoration of the World Transport Day. High profile personalities and policy makers were expected to gain first hand experience of what the everyday Ghanaian goes through using commercial or public transport.

Observing the day, Mr Joe Gidisu, Minister of Roads and Highways, parked his newly registered Land Cruiser and joined a Kwame Nkrumah Circle-bound rickety vehicle from Madina Zongo Junction after failing to get an Accra-bound vehicle which he needed to take to get to his office. He transited at the 37 Military Hospital where he boarded an Accra-bound bus to his office at the Ministries adjacent the National Theatre in Accra.

“After leaving the Ghana National Association of Teachers some 15 years ago I have not used public transport,” he remarked.

After the hustle to get to his office, he told journalists; “We have a long way to go to improve public transport in the country to ease congestion on our roads …We also have to speed up the urban trans.prt project to reduce vehicles on a particular road”.

This is how Mr. Joe Gidisu summed up his experience following his about two-hour baptism with trotro (public transport): “It has exposed me to a whole lot of things. For example we started off looking for a bus to the Tema Station in Accra, we couldn’t get one so we had to transit on a Circle-bound vehicle to 37 and another one to the Ministry area.

“Equally of interest to me is that point that the drivers had to find a way of dodging traffic, a situation which is quite relevant to me as a sector minister to make sure that some of those link roads could be improved so that it could ease traffic on our main roads.”

Policy change

Myjoyonline Ghana News Photos |
Mr Gidisu sitting amongst the everyday Ghanaian in a trotro to Accra
Mr Gidisu disclosed that hopefully, early next year, the ministry would embark on a pilot project to create special bus lanes for high occupancy vehicles to reduce congestion on the roads.

“We will try to stretch it from Kasoa through Mallam to Accra by creating a special bus lane for those types of high occupancy vehicles; they will be decent enough for those using the private cars to rather decide to go on them. Some would be express and would not be stopping to pick passengers.”

He conceded that even though the experience is “artificial… It is a national exposure to policy makers. I wish it would be regular but the question is what are we doing or what can we do to change the situation which is the daily lot of a greater number of our people”.

The Minister said a group of engineers would be leaving for the Netherlands, Columbia and Ecuador to learn how those countries manage their transport systems to replicate them in Ghana. He has already been to the UK, Columbia and Brasil on a similar mission.

To ensure safety on the roads, the Minister admonished the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority to reconsider their registration processes, especially of vehicles, “which sincerely should not be on our roads”.

Members of the public were also asked to change their attitude; “... of complacency in terms of the situation that we have lived with, perhaps, without people trying to demand their fair share of the situation.”

But for the media personnel who followed the Minister, passengers would not have realized that there was a minister in their midst though.

Some of the passengers commended the initiative and expressed the hope that the experience for the ministers will influence public policies in the transport sector.

Story by Isaac Essel/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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