A forceful political take-over of a toll booth on an important road in the Central region is affecting business and the government in more ways than one.
More than two weeks ago, New Patriotic Party (NPP) supporters seized the Assin Praso toll booth to stress the point that their party is in government.
The take-over is one of a handful of violent incidents as over-enthusiastic get-even NPP supporters remembered similar take-overs by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) when it won power in 2008 general elections.
Finding inspiration from past lawlessness, the NPP supporters seized tickets, sacked the ticketing staff from the kiosk in a coup d’etat style.
But barely 24 hours after the take-over, the tickets were running out – going, going, gone. There are no tickets to sell to motorists.
The take-over brigade apparently sacked the toll operators without finding out where tickets are produced or who distributes them.
An angry supervisor of the booth who reportedly works with the Ghana Highway Authority will not lead them to get tickets and motorists won’t pay until they are given a ticket.
If the NPP group persists in the take-over, they will have to install a militia to force motorists into paying before using the road.
In favour of better judgement the NPP group abandoned ‘ship’, leaving the toll booth unmanned and in no time it is the turn of motorists to celebrate as drivers excitedly ply the route without paying any toll.
But happy drivers do not make happy hawkers. The toll booth while operational slowed down cars, created traffic and created business for youths and women who hopped vehicle to vehicle to sell.
They sold bread, assorted soft drinks, pie, sachet water, rechargeable mobile cards, tubers of yam, wrapped kenkey – anything a passenger could possibly buy along the way.
This source of livelihood has dried up. The women can no longer shut up about the take-over as the nonoperational toll booth is having a toll on their business.
It is not known how much revenue the government has lost from the short-lived lawlessness but the traders know how much they are losing.
At the Assin Praso road, there is an abandoned toll booth, a retreated vagabonds, happy drivers, morose business women.