I took a personal decision to conduct a sectoral research amongst commercial drivers(Trotro, Taxi, sprinter)in the Accra/Tema/Kasoa enclave.
The purposes of this research was;
(a) to solicit for their perceptions and assessment of the Akuffo Addo and NPP government in relation to their lives generally, and as commercial drivers in particular, and how that will influence their votes in the coming December presidential and Parliamentary elections, and advice the government and the party accordingly.
(b) to help reduce any form of complacency, a canker that infects many African political parties in power.
METHODS OF RESEARCH.
Due to time constraints, cost involved and the number of drivers to be contacted, I did not use any specific sample size. It was therefore based purely on primary research with face to face interviews both at terminals and in their vehicles whilst in motion. I was very cautious not to distract the attention of the drivers, particularly, when in motion.
Therefore my findings are not purely scientific, so margin of errors were not calculated. But I consider them very important and useful to advise the government and the party on. The research spanned over a period of six weeks.
It was found out that;
- Many of these drivers will highly involve themselves in the campaign to encourage their passengers, spouses, friends and other family members, particularly those who depend on them for their livelihoods to vote for a party that will consider their interests. The general achievements of the government may not be their major concern.
- Majority of them find the Akuffo Addo’s government better than the previous government but are not happy about the behaviours of some appointees and their level of opulence and arrogant lifestyles. A sizeable number said that it was one of the reasons why they campaigned and voted against the previous government.
- The number of ministerial appointments, ie the size of the government is a major concern to many.
- Fuel price increases is also another concern expressed by many. Most of these drivers don’t understand the macroeconomic factors(inflation, interest rates, GDP growth rates etc) and the work of the fuel related regulatory agencies.
- Majority of them sympathise with the government in Covid-19 period, and are happy with how the government has handled the situation. But almost every driver interviewed was not happy why the government has reduced the number of passengers they are supposed to pick whilst other social gatherings go on without observing the Covid-19 protocols at the wrong eyes of the government ie the recent NPP primaries, the ongoing voters registration exercise, NIA registration, individual daily business activities etc. They feel the government has singled them out to strictly adhere to the Covid-19 protocols to their disadvantage.
- The drivers see police bribery as normal and factor it in their regular expenditure. They seem to budget for police bribery and add it to their recurrent expenditure, ie fuel, repairs and maintenance, income tax, insurance etc. Very amazing.
- Most of them seem to lack information on many of the government policies. The government and the party seem to have woefully failed to educate the public on the numerous and brilliant policies. And it seems the flagship programme of the Free SHS is becoming the only government policy they understand and feel. When asked them on the several other policies of the government, a sizeable number said the NPP like ‘brofo ak3se3’. They are not properly communicated to them in their local languages.
Other minor concerns expressed include failure to take care of party members who worked to bring the party to power including some of they the drivers, many appointees fail to pick their calls and the deplorable nature of their roads, though many showed appreciation for the ongoing roads, interchanges and a few drainage constructions.
As a matter of urgency, I would like to make the following recommendations to the authorities in order of preferences to these drivers, if we value their contributions to the upcoming December 7 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
- The government should immediately allow these drivers to load to full capacity and ensure that the drivers and station officers take responsibility to enforce the safety protocol regulations, by making sure that;
(i) every passenger puts on the face masks before boarding.
(ii) every driver makes provision for hand sanitizers for the passengers to use before boarding.
(iii) every driver displays the “No Face Mask No Boarding Slogan” and sanitizes the seats and handles in the vehicles at the end of every trip before reloading
(iv) the drivers and their assistants wear their masks throughout the journey and ensure all passengers do same.
Throughout my research, I observed that there are no striking differences between the vehicular current loading capacities and full loading capacities that is putting much financial constraints on the drivers and vehicle owners.
The most important thing could be the strict adherence to the safety protocols. For example, the small space between two passengers in a small taxi cab can under no circumstances prevent the spread of the virus.
- Both the government and party should broaden the communication network to include all those who are willing to work for the party and government and resourced to maintain power at all cost. Because the cost of losing power far outweighs that of winning. We have paid this huge price not long ago and we cannot afford to inflict that same pain on us again. It may sound weird to those who are seeking their selfish interests amongst us, but that is the reality.
- The government should set up Communication centres at some of the busiest terminals with mega phones fixed with recorded information to explain government policies to travellers at regular intervals, and resource the NCCE to go round the rural communities to educate and explain government policies to them through video shows and mobile vans.
approachable and competent people with government and party at heart should occupy sensitive positions rather than cronies who may think of their selfish interests.
The above research was thoroughly conducted devoid of any personal feelings but a true reflection of the views expressed by the selected sector, thus some of the urban commercial drivers, whose views and feelings represent the general commercial drivers across the country.
Time is not on our side so the earlier we act the better.
I would end by referring to the popular wise saying by William Shakespeare that says, and I quote.., “The world itself is not cruel to anybody, but it is those who want the shortest route to the achievements of their desire by foul means, who usually get themselves entangled in the inextricable web of dilemma”..unquote.
Yaw Twum-Barima (Msc, ACCA, BA Hons, Dip..Ed).
Former Director of Communication NPP UK.