Kumasi drivers on strike over alleged police harassment

Scores of commuters at Ayigya, near the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, became stranded as commercial drivers (trotro drivers) yesterday began a two-day sit-down strike in protest against what they say are frequent arrest of the drivers and alleged extortion by policemen.

Both young and old, including schoolchildren and pregnant women, were seen trekking to the main city business centres of Adum and Kejetia for their day’s activities.

At the time of filing this story, eight of the striking drivers had been arrested after they had engaged in a scuffle with the police following a blockade of sections of the road.

Police sources told the Daily Graphic that the drivers had been warned not to park or pick passengers at the KNUST Bus Stop, but the drivers had contended that since there was no official bus station from where to operate, they had no option but to use the  place as their loading point. Extortion

A spokesman for the angry drivers, Mr Kwame Appiah, told the Daily Graphic that the rampant arrest of drivers and alleged extortion of money by the police had compelled some of them to quit the job.

The drivers, who flooded the street, causing heavy vehicular traffic, alleged that the police collected at least GHc1,000 for each arrest and those sent to court were fined GHc6,000.

Mr Appiah appealed to the city authorities to provide a temporary place for drivers to operate, while awaiting a permanent station from where to carry out their vocation.     Background.

On March 11, 2014, the Ashanti Regional Command of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service arrested 80 drivers for obstructing traffic in the Kumasi metropolis.

In an operation by the police dubbed, ”Operation Let the Roads Be Clear”, the drivers were apprehended at areas such as Morrow Market, Dr Mensah, Bremang Junction, CAF, KNUST, Oforikrom and Alabar.

According to the Deputy Ashanti Regional MTTD Commander, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mr Charles Ahiamale, the arrests were necessitated by the haphazard manner in which some drivers, especially commercial ones, had been parking in the metropolis to pick passengers.

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