When I first came to live in Accra, I stayed in Madina, a suburb in the north of the capital. I had just been admitted into journalism school and I would do the journey of roughly an hour to downtown Accra, where my school was. That journey would cost me 45 pesewas then.

The return trip, which was under a cedi, was less than half of how much I would spend in a day. This week, as fuel prices saw a seven per cent increase, road users- as always- have been complaining. But that is not news really.

I left Madina in 2012 and haven’t really taken public transport in Accra since 2016 when I bought a car. So I decided, this week, to go back to Madina and do the trip I first did in August of 2008 and see how it had changed.

It’s a Friday morning. The time has just gone past seven. I am standing right at the spot that I stood for four years of university life, looking for a car. It is rush hour and because public transport is not organised on schedule, there is always a jostle for space in the cars as and when they come.

“It is always like this here,” says Laud, who, like me 11 years ago, is a student living in Madina. I know because I was in that hustle for four years.

Now, the fare to go from Madina to Accra is ¢4 Cedis- nearly ten times I paid the first time I took a car from here.

“The fare issue affects me. I spend more on the fare than the food I eat. I don’t work, my parents take care of me and it is hard for me,” Laud says.

The journey from Rawlings Circle to Accra hasn’t changed much. The traffic situation has slightly improved as road infrastructure has become relatively better. The trotros still look old and rickety and now the fare is ¢4 almost ten times what it was 11 years ago.

Suleman Ahmed says he has been driving here for more than 10 years and says the cost of fuel drains him. He is the one driving the car I am in now. He drives a blue 2000 made Nissan Urvan bus.

As we move slowly in the heavy traffic he says he is tired of the constant fights that erupt in his car every time there is an increase in fuel prices and they too, drivers, move their fares up.

“Passengers are always fighting. Sometimes they do not even announce the fuel price increments and people come into the cars and fight us,” he says.

The Government of Ghana in June 2015 put in place a deregulation policy that had the expectation of allowing marketers and importers of petroleum products to sell directly to consumers by setting their own prices.
This meant that global market prices of fuel and exchange rate changes, and not government, were responsible for fuel price adjustments.

Industry watchers have blamed the high number of different tax components on the price of petroleum products for the high prices at the pumps.

The tax variables that determine the price of fuel in the country include an energy debt recovery levy, road fund levy and an energy fund levy of 1Gp per litre.

There is also the price stabilisation and recovery levy of 12Gp per litre, a primary distribution margin of 7.5Gp per litre and a Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) Company margin of 3Gp per litre among others.
The taxes and the impact they have on fuel price and lorry fares are biting.

“I have lived in Madina for twenty years now and the changes in lorry fares have been unbearable. Fuel prices affect everything. There is no money. Sometimes, you don’t even have money on you and you hear of an increment, how do you adjust?” asks Victoria Kudjoji.

At the 37 bus stop just around the 37 Military Hospital. At the Total filling station here, I watch drivers showing faces of frustration, waking up to the latest fuel price hike, at least the 8th increment this year alone.

Jonathan Ababiu drives an okada. He has been doing the job for 4 years. He tells me his expenses on fuel has almost doubled in two years.

“I used to buy ¢40 and I could work with it till closing. Now I spend up to ¢70. Most of us are leaving this job because of the constant increase in fuel prices,” he says.

Between the time I came live in Madina and now, the minimum wage has gone up by only 50 per cent and yet the lorry fare has gone up by more than 600 per cent.

This week, as transport operators plan new fares, it is very likely to go up again. It is the tightening of belts one more, painful time. No one knows when this cycle will end. If it ever will.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.