Accra Mayor, Mohammed Nii Adjei Sowah, has blamed the former, NDC government of over-pricing the buses meant for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), popularly known as “Aayalolo”.
According to him, the over-pricing of the buses to nearly three times its original cost, and some other unpopular decisions contributed to the failure of the BRT service even before it started operations.
Speaking on Citi news monitored by Prime News Ghana, he said: “It was designed to fail right from the word go.”
Mr. Mohammed Adjei Sowah, who is also the board chairman for the Greater Accra Passenger Transport Executive [GAPTE], operators of the Ayalolo bus service accused the immediate past NDC government of failing to pay attention to the advice of the World bank by acquiring 245 Ayalolo buses instead of the approved 80.
According to him, some of the buses remain unutilized because the past NDC Government acquired more than necessary.
“I think it was designed to fail right from the word go, per the advice of the World bank they were supposed to buy 80 buses to ply the Amasaman corridor to pilot it, but they bought 245 of the buses. That is how come you see a lot of the buses unused over there.”
“They were supposed to procure a bus at the cost of 80,000 dollars but they bought the bus at 256,000 dollars, three times the cost of the bus as estimated. Meanwhile these bus are supposed to be outsourced to operators for them to pay within seven years. Nobody is willing to use the bus because any operator that picks the bus has a payback of 7 years. It was supposed to be 80,000 dollars, John Mahama’s government brought it at 256,000 dollars per bus. The company that procured the buses is Scania.”
The Accra Mayor also cited the lack of dedicated lanes for the Ayalolo buses as another reason for its failure.
He explained that passengers who patronized the buses where faced with long hours in traffic due to the lack of the dedicated lanes for the buses adding that it could take over 2 hours or more when moving to Accra from areas such as Pokuase and Amasaman.
He said the BRT buses cannot be operationalized unless dedicated lanes are cleared for the buses.
“One of the challenges also is that the BRT system is supposed to work on a dedicated lane, you don’t have a dedicated lane, the dedicated lane that you have has a limited service, … When you pick the bus from Amasaman to Pokuase it will take you about 2 hours because of traffic. How many hours will it take you to get to Accra ?” he asked.
However, refuting the claims of the Accra Mayor on the show, Mr. Sam Atukwei Quaye, a former board member of GAPTE, accused the NPP government of rather being ineffective and lacking ideas with the operationalization of the Ayalolo buses.
He also denied that the then GAPTE administration of which he was a part of, procured one of the buses at a cost of $245,000 dollars as alleged by the Accra Mayor. According to him, a bus was in the region of $130,000.
According to him, excuses such as the lack of dedicated lanes affecting the operationalization of the buses do not hold because the buses can ply the necessary routes with or without a dedicated lane.
“Before the buses were operated, some dedicated lanes were created, but not all of it. The government did not have the resources to create all the dedicated lanes, but the buses can still operate without the dedicated lanes.”
He also refuted allegations that the buses were overpriced to almost 3 times its original amount.
According to him, vehicles obtained by the NDC government to aid the police in the supervision of the dedicated vehicles are being used for different purposes by the Ghana Police service.