Strike: Transportation chaos as drivers use commuters as bargaining chip against DVLA

Long queues and long faces at bus stations tell the tale of frustration as commuters are left stranded because of a ruthless demonstration by commercial drivers.

The drivers of the Committed Drivers group bit big as the strike believed to be nationwide hit hard.

Workers hang on to their mobile phones to tell a predictable story to thier superiors that “no,I won’t be able to make it for the meeting’ or ‘I am going to be late”.

They hang up and gaze ahead of the queue that hardly moves.

Their Monday morning routine and resolution to be early and productive at work severely gutted.

Ladies sweat as their neat make-up gives up to the heat. Their faces first hopeful, gives in to despair.

It is going to be a long morning.
Commercial drivers at Ashiaman, Kasoa, Tema even in Obuasi in the Ashanti Region are showing muscle in resisting plans by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to insist on seat belts for all passengers in buses and taxis.

A good idea – until you talk to the drivers.
A driver explained that it is not possible to strap every passenger to a seat belt. “It is not done even in Germany where the best buses are imported”, a driver showed off a travelling experience even if imaginary.

“If they want us to put seat belts in our cars, they should go to Germany and tell manufacturers of the buses. Grown-ups existed before wise children were born”, a leader of the drivers union jabbed the decision-makers at DVLA suggesting that experience is the best teacher not university-educated technocrats.

The DVLA has also been insisting that a new equipment will check the road worthiness of vehicles before issuing worthiness certificate.

The Drivers are suggesting that the DVLA should use those machines first to check if roads like Ashiaman, Kasoa are worthy to be called roads.

In brief, the bad roads are the cause of their unworthy buses. The DVLA, they say is curiously ignoring the need to also pass that machine through Ghanaian decision-makers to find out why despite the many tolls they pay, the roads in Accra are getting unmotorable.

The drivers are rejecting a plan by the DVLA to get all commercial drivers pass through accredited Driving Schools and write computerized test for any upgrade in their licenses.

A driver with 12-years driving experience Charles Danso replied, that the DVLA must configure their computers into local languages even before they can discuss the need for computerized test.

“We don’t use mouse to drive. They say if you want to drive you should use mouse”, a striking driver told Joy News, confirming the huge gap in understanding that forms the cornerstone of this Monday morning feud.

The need for a BECE certificate is just too much a requirement for the drivers who opted for driving after they dropped out of Junior Secondary School.

A new set of 195 regulations, according to the drivers is even more than God’s 10 commandment. And considering that the reward for obeying only 10 of God’s law is heaven, 195 human regulations just for driving is cruel, inhumane and simply unattainable, Charles Danso explained on Adom FM Monday.

Despite the explanation from DVLA that all these measures are aimed at reducing road accidents, the drivers say, the licensing authority are not looking at the problem wholistically.

Drivers die too, Danso explained and living is not the sole desire of passengers, his amazing street logic continued.

Passengers who need the drivers showed confused allegiance to the cause of the drivers. Many do not understand the need for the seat belt for everybody.

But for a Monday morning, allegiance to their bosses at work was more pressing. The commuters begged the drivers to show mercy.

Their phones were ringing. Their excuse of a drivers’ demonstration being the cause of their unavoidable lateness to work still stood.

No matter how they get to the office, stress from the traffic will no doubt show in every output.

The drivers say, this strike is indefinite. The police and some soldiers had moved in to attempt some solutions that may not involve dialogue.

Some drivers at Tema station in Accra prevented passengers from opting for the government-run Metro Mass Transit. The buses are usually crowded and stuffy with a wide mix of passengers from computer geeks to fish-sellers.

But with a strike underway, MMT buses were a sort of Hobson’s choice anyway.

Other drivers also tried to prevent their colleagues they accuse of being deserters to the cause from working at Ashiaman.

To put things in perspective, there are several drivers’ union in town and achieving unity for a task like this is as difficult as the attempt by 53 African states to do the same in the mooted African Union.

The dissenting drivers who depart from the rule not to work and drivers with no allegiance to any union can cash in big time.

This is a potential breakthrough for a driver to make enough to pay off a rent.

And as time goes on, the drivers who only earn when they work, will have to decide whether a fight with salaried DVLA officers is worth it.

For most commercial drivers, they have daily sales to make for their owners.

For now, it remains to be seen if the value of a democratic principle to demonstrate will outweigh the economic principle to make profit.

Story by Ghana||Edwin Appiah|[email protected]

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