Fuel Hike Fever Grips Ho
Less than three days after the Minister for Energy, Hon. Albert Kan Dapaah, had announced new prices for petroleum products, a "Chronicle" survey across the Volta regional capital, Ho, indicated dramatic behavioral changes and several consumption patterns.
Apart from transport fares, which virtually doubled in the interim, prices of all other commodities remained the same. Surprisingly, however, it appears consumers have soft-pedaled with their purchases unless those items that are critically dictated by their scales of preference.
Worst hit is the hotel and catering industry, which generally witnessed a considerable drop in sales. Attendants at 'Talk of the Town', a popular fast food and drinking spot talked of poor sales over the weekend. According to Christopher Avexo who is in charge of drinks, people who used to take bottles of beer have changed to malt to save money for transport to go work the following week.
Miss. Dzigbordi, a caterer at the same spot also reported of poor patronage since the fuel hike. In fact by 8.00p.m. last Sunday, other popular spots like 'Old Timers' and 'Mother's Love' were virtually empty. Mr. Godwin Baku, general manager of Freedom Hotel said he personally had to trek to his office instead of taking a taxi, and is prepared to continue to do the walking to work as long as the fares remain at ?1,500.
Traders at the Ho central market also complain of poor sales even though they cannot tell whether it has a connection with the fuel price increase. Sena, a sales girl at Dzidepo Enterprises, a multistore in the heart of the municipality, told the Chronicle that last Saturday had been her worst weekend in recent months.
At the main lorry park the fare to Aflao jumped from ?6,500 to ?12,000 while Kpando fares moved from ?5,500 to ?10,000.
The Volta Region, being one of the most deprived regions in the country has little or no factories to boast of. And with the unemployment rate very high the slightest upward adjustment of petroleum prices naturally has very adverse effect on the lifestyle of the masses.
As at the time of filing this report, indications are that the apprehensive stand adopted will continue until the chips fall in their right places, as predicted by government.