Fuel price increments are a thing for governments with brass balls. It is the fastest way to lose votes and the love of their most ardent of supporters. However, after subsidizing fuel prices for some time, every government will throw caution to the wind and increase prices; nothing they can do about it. Please don’t blame us, blame OPEC.
But hate the government or the energy minister but I choose to hate the trotro rides days after the fuel hikes.
Typically 3 things happen whenever price of oil products (petrol, diesel, LPG) are raised.
1. Trotro drivers increase prices by 10GHp or 5GHp
2. Passengers resolve to not pay any extra prices until the official percentage of increment is announced by the MTTU or some other authority in charge of fixing those prices
3. Trotro drivers & mates fight with passengers until a price is agreed on, often a percentage higher than the approved one.
So this is how it usually goes in the days after increase in fuel prices are announced and I will set some scenarios and view points of the parties involved.
“Just yesterday the fare was 40pesewas, now you’re charging 50pesewas, I won’t pay” – Passenger 1
“If you won’t pay, get down, someone else will pay” – Mate
“You must be kidding me, I’m not getting down, now or ever. 40pesewas is the price as of today and I’m not paying more than that” – Passenger 1
At this point the driver is agitated and threatens to not move the car, he even kills the engine and takes out the key and call to his mate.
“Don’t mind them, we’re not going any further. [driver to mate] You guys can get down if you won’t pay 50pesewas. Did it cross your mind that the filling stations have already increased their prices? The car-owner will be increasing his sales soon and you’re here saying what you want” – Driver
“We won’t get down” – Passenger 1 & 2 and a few others
After a few passengers have gotten off the bus, the driver comes back to sit to find some bellicose passengers still fuming in the bus.
“You better move because 40pesewas is all we will pay” – Passenger 1
“Oh shut up! don’t you want to go home? Maybe you don’t have kids waiting for you to or a husband to cook supper for. Please let the driver move the trotro” – Passenger 3
“You are the people who let these drivers get away with high prices. The fact that we can afford 50pesewas doesn’t mean it is right for us to pay that fare” – Passenger 1
After a while consensus is reached by the majority of passengers out of a necessity to get to destination on time etc. and the more vocal passengers plead and assure the driver that they’ll pay 50pesewas. It is only then that the driver grudgingly moves the trotro, all the while complaining to whoever is within earshot about how trotro drivers suffer to make enough money to give to their car owners on a daily basis.
So when the bus is finally full and on its way, with fares taken from passengers with little or no fights the driver shares some insight into how hikes in fuel prices affect everything and why it is fair to pass it on to the passengers.
“When fuel prices go up, prices of everything go up as well. Spare parts dealers increase their prices and in this business you know that half of our money goes back into purchasing spare parts.”
“The foodstuffs coming from the village will all be expensive now because the traders will pass on the cost and the kenkey seller will also increase her prices or reduce the size of the kenkey balls. How do you expect us to survive if we can’t increase prices of fares? Do you fight with the food stuffs trader over her prices when you go to the market?”
Good set of questions that gets anyone listening to either keep quiet or nod agreeably and think, why don’t I fight with the trader for selling me 4 fingers of plantain for 1 Ghana cedis?
A day or 2 later, the authority in charge of regulating trotro prices comes out with a percentage increment of about 10%, which means that the new fare should be 44pesewas or 45pesewas (denominational constraint) instead of 50pesewas.
But by that time 50pesewas has been fought over and agreed on between passengers and drivers and their mates and people quickly want to forget the experience and get on with their lives.
Occasionally when a Smart-Alec of a passenger raises the fact that 50pesewas represents more than 10% or is 25% of the previous fare, the driver will give him another sad speech about… “how does the government want us to survive when fuel prices have been increased by 18% and then expect us to only increase fares by 10%? Don’t forget that as soon as fuel prices are increased, prices of food stuffs, used-clothing are all increased and soon general prices levels go up by 18%”.
Now that is street-maths-logic you don’t want to argue against. Because you want to live to fight another fare increment.