General News of Wed, 4 Jul 201833

Mahama government ignored World Bank, bought extra BRT buses – AMA Boss

The challenges facing the company running the Aayalolo bus service can be attributed to the purchase of the too many busses ahead of the rollout of the service, Accra Metropolitan Assembly Chief Executive, Mohammed Nii Adjei Sowah, has said.

Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, the Board Chair, Nii Adjei Sowah, said the government bought twice the number of buses needed for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system despite the advice of the World Bank.

The government also exceeded the World Bank’s recommended expenditure ahead of the piloting of the programme on the Amasaman-Accra corridor.

“According to the World Bank, which did a study, the number of buses the central government was supposed to buy to be on the project was around 80 buses or so…Unfortunately, the central government took the decision and bought three times more than the number of the buses at the cost of two-and-a-half times more than what the World Bank suggested to us.”

“So they started the company with too many buses,” Mr. Adjei Sowah explained.

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This has also affected the role of Greater Accra Passenger Transport Executive (GAPTE), he added.

“When you have gone to buy a bus which is costing so much money, and you expect a private person to come and operate the bus and in the end, pay for it and operate it on that corridor, that is very difficult to start.”

The latest challenge confronting the BRT system is a sit-down strike by its drivers.

The drivers have said they have not been paid for the past five months.

Though Mr. Adjei Sowah described the strike us surprising, he acknowledged that the workers were owed salaries.

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“We admit the drivers are owed a couple of months because the company is not generating enough revenue to support its operations,” he said.

The AMA boss also reiterated the operational concerns facing the BRT system and admitted that the company was “seriously in debt.”

“The bigger issue, from my understanding, is that we are having serious operational challenges and that is borne out of the fact that the company itself was not properly structured,” Mr. Adjei Sowah said.

About the BRT

A BRT is a specialized bus-based mass transit system which uses dedicated lanes for fast movement within urban settlements.

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In 2016 when Ghana’s BRT system began, operations were expected to be on Accra and Amasaman, Accra and Ofankor, Accra and Adentan, Accra and Tema and Accra and Kasoa routes.

It was later christened as the Quality Bus System (QBS) because the proposed BRT system did not meet international standards.

The QBS management noted in 2017 that the programme had been operating at a loss since commercial services commenced in the capital, Accra.

At the time, reports indicated that about 197 out of the 245 Aayalolo buses imported into the country for the QBS have not been used since 2016.

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