Business News of 2014-04-24

Alternative route hampers revenue in Afram Plains

Road travel to and from the Afram Plains has always been hampered by the Afram Lake that separates Adawso and Ekye Amanfrom. Travel time has thus been increased by the long wait for the pontoon and boats from Adawso to Ekye Amanfrom.

Sometimes too, the breakdown of the pontoon on the lake affects patrons, particularly traders who use big trucks to convey their goods to the marketing centres.

Idea of alternative route

When the idea was conceived in the early 1990s to open up the Afram Plains through Agogo to the Ashanti Region, the people in the area heaved a sigh of relief.

The then government mobilised resources to begin work on the Agogo-Dome-Maame Krobo road to link Ekye Amanfrom but the process of construction was slow. Thankfully, the project was completed with the support of the Millenium Challenge Account Project.

However, this project, which was widely hailed by the people, has brought in its wake inadequate revenue mobilisation on the pontoon plying the Afram Lake. Many of the heavy trucks and passengers, who hitherto paid fares to the owners of the pontoon, the Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC), now use the Agogo-Maame Krobo road.

Although the route through the Ashanti Region is long, time consuming and expensive, many traders consider it more convenient than the long wait at Ekye Amanfrom or Adawso to join the pontoon, as well as the danger posed to travellers climbing the Kwahu mountain.

All passengers in a vehicle get down at Adawso or Ekye Amanfrom to join the ferry at GH¢2.50 per head, while vehicles are charged depending on their weight. For instance, a driver of a saloon car pays GH¢14 to embark the ferry, while pickups and urvan buses pay GH¢18 each. Trucks pay more.

Traders or travellers who wish to use the pontoon to either side, no matter how early they want to travel, have to wait at the river bank until 8.30 a.m. before the pontoon starts work.

According to the District Coordinating Director of the Kwahu Afram Plains South District, Mr Kwaku Domfeh, there had always been a number of complaints by passengers who always had to wait for hours on end either at Adawso or Ekye Amanfrom to join the ferry.

Decline in patronage of pontoon

The effect of the alternative route on the patronage of the pontoon is evident by the statistics available from the management of the ferry from 2012 until the end of the first quarter of 2014.

For instance, 342,529 passengers patronised the ferry in 2012 as compared with 308,158 in 2013. At the end of the first quarter of 2014, about 72,118 passengers used the pontoon. This is a sharp decline compared to with 82,946 and 84,556 in 2012 and 2013, respectively, for the same period under review.

In an interview at Adawso, the Station Officer of the Ferry, Mr Miezah Blay, confirmed the effect of the alternative route on the ferry and added that “most of the charcoal trucks and travellers to the Ashanti Region now prefer to use the alternative route and this is affecting us seriously.”

He said the reality was that most of the charcoal business was along that route and it was easier for them to use that road instead of having to cross the river and also climb the mountain.

Mr Blay also mentioned that the reduction in the use of the pontoon could also be attributed to varied means of modern communication which enabled people to discuss and transact business on phone instead of having to physically move from one place to the other.

“Now it is possible for a relative to just wire money to another either through the mobile phone network or through the rural banks. Some 10 years ago, people had to move from one place to another but that cannot be said of today,” he said.

Source: graphic.com
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