The National Labour Commission (NLC), has directed aggrieved drivers of the BRT Aayalolo buses to immediately call off their strike and resume work.
The drivers on Tuesday declared an indefinite sit-down strike to protest what they consider deplorable conditions of service.
The Commission in an urgent letter signed by the Commission’s Director of Administration and Human Resources, Dr. Bernice Welbeck, directed the drivers and managers of the buses, Greater Accra Passenger Transport Executive (GAPTE), to appear before it on Thursday, July 5, 2018, to discuss the way forward.
The Commission confirmed that there was an impending case between GAPTE and the drivers at the NLC, and that it was working to resolve it.
It thus expressed shock that the workers decided to lay down their tools when both parties had been asked to submit their issues in dispute.
Meanwhile, the Management of the Greater Accra Passenger Transport Executive (GAPTE), have also expressed shock at the decision of its drivers to declare a sit-down strike.
The Management said the concerns of the drivers which formed their basis for the declaration of the industrial action have been sent to the National Labour Commission for a determination.
The Communications Manager at GAPTE, Fred Chidi in an interview said the strike is uncalled for as the workers had earlier reported the matter to the National Labour Commission for a determination.
As we speak right now the NLA has intervened in the matter and the situation is in arbitration right now. It is interesting that it is the workers’ group which reported this matter to the National Labour Commission and the Commission has taken over the matter. The whole of June we’ve been in arbitration over this matter. So we were surprised when the driver refused to work. Because we would have thought that we would have gone through the process and the labour commission would have ruled on the matter and we’ll see the way forward, so it was quite surprising to us.
Having been originally touted as the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the QBS was rather introduced, following the inability of the government to provide dedicated lanes for the buses which had been a major selling point of the BRT.
It was revealed in July 2017 that after eight months of operation in the capital, the managers of the transport service were still making losses.
Last year, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development charged the newly-inaugurated Board of the Greater Accra Passenger Transport Executive (GAPTE), to investigate the circumstances under which the management of the Aayalolo buses accrued huge debts, particularly in relation to the purchase of fuel.
According to them, the Board must probe the structure and the mode of fuel distribution for the buses.
The situation has led to low patronage of the system resulting in the inability of the company to earn enough to cover operational costs.
Addressing the media after a tour of some bus terminals, the Chief Executive Officer of GAPTE, Sampson Gyamenah, admitted that low patronage of the bus service since the programme commenced in 2016 has kept the company in the red.
“We still have a long way to go to be able to break even. We are ramping up the number of passengers and that is the real challenge. When we started the patronage was very poor. In December, we were doing an average of 1, 400 passengers a day.”