Increase in Ghana road tolls causes nationwide anger
Anger and frustration were the expressions on the faces of motorists who plied the Tema Motorway on Monday, as they were stuck in traffic stretching for up to about one-and-a-half kilometres on the Accra end of the toll booth as new road tolls went into effect.
It took motorists from Accra close to an hour to cross the toll booth which is just about two kilometres from the Tetteh-Quarshie Roundabout, compelling some to drive on the shoulders of the road.
The situation was not different at the Tema Motorway Roundabout and Ashaiman ends as drivers had a tough time trying to join the Motorway because traffic was flowing at a snail’s pace.
Some drivers who were conversant with other routes, turned to those alternative routes to get to their destinations.
The chaos was the result of the refusal of some drivers to pay the new road tolls whose implementation took effect on Monday, February 1.
The Parliament of Ghana before recess last year approved new road tolls increasing the amount by almost 1,000 per cent, a situation most motorists consider unfair and too astronomical considering the bad nature of the roads which cause frequent damage to their vehicles.
“When they get to the booths and we demand the new tolls, they refuse to pay and remain at the booths arguing with us thereby causing the congestion,” a toll booth attendant said.
The situation is not different across the country, especially on major busy roads where toll booths are sited.
However, Mr Joe Gidisu, Minister of Roads and Highways, who was on the road throughout the morning to witness the situation, told the Ghana News Agency at the scene at about 11:30 hours Monday that the reaction of the motorists was expected and natural, giving that the country last experienced road toll adjustment in 1999.
Mr Gidisu said with the implementation taking off, drivers should expect the best of the roads to drive on as there would be more funds available to government for the improvement of road infrastructure across the country.
“We will deliver value for money. I understand and appreciate the concern of the drivers and I am assuring them that things will change and will be in the right direction,” the Minister said.
He said government would not reverse or reduce the new tolls adding “this is even below the standard practice across the world and that is the way we should go if we are to change our situation for the better”.
Mr Gidisu said people should not consider the increase in percentage terms but rather in terms of how it would save the situation, adding that government would soon move to erect more toll booths on other roads that did not have any.