Transport as stated in the words of Hoyle and Smith (1992) is “an epitome of the complex
relationships that exist between the physical environment, patterns of social and political activity
and levels of economic development.” This statement goes further to buttress the position of
scholars like Mabogunje (1989); Todaro (1989); and Barke and O’Hare (1984) that, ‘transport
systems provide a key to the understanding and operation of many other systems at many
different scales. At one extreme, intercontinental transport provides essential communication
between the advanced and developing world. At the other extreme, local transport to rural
markets in many parts of the third world is a vital component in changing dynamic socio-
In fact, the debate over the relationship between transport and development is a long- standing
one, which continues to this day. In the midst of this long-standing debate, a United Nation’s
study by Voigt in 1967 claimed that transport is “…the formative power of economic growth and
the differentiating process.”
Regardless, Hoyle (1973) states that such statements are gross over-simplifications and
according to him, the transport and development relationship is essentially a two-way interaction
process, and the result of the interaction depends upon the type of economy involved and upon
the level of development at which the transport improvements are effected. At a given stage of
development, an area requires a certain level of transport provision in order to maximize its
potentials. The fact of the matter is, most developing countries lack safe, organized, and
effective transport structures. Some of these countries, however, have acquired an appreciable
level of transport development which, when effectively managed, could help achieve a
significant level of development.
Most urban transportation problems that confront both developed and developing countries alike
are traffic movement and congestion, crowding on public transport, difficulties for pedestrians,
environmental pollution, accidents, and parking difficulties to mention only a few. Interesting
enough, the economically advanced nations have made giant strides and indeed have achieved
significant success in managing most of these problems. Of course, some developing countries
have also made significant efforts in solving some of these problems, but much work remains to
be done. One developing country that has made giant efforts towards managing traffic
congestion with remarkable success is Singapore. Their effort date as far back as 1975 and since
then their success story has become a model for many developing and developed nations alike.
Urban transport problems have serious consequences on socio-economic lifestyles of the general
public. Luggard (1922) stated as follows, ‘the material development of Africa may be summed
up in the one word, transport.’ This could hardly be stated more appropriately. It is therefore
disheartening to mention that the envisioned socio-economic development of Africa, especially
that of Ghana, is threatened by these urban transport problems. It is against this backdrop that
this work proposes to look into the concept of road pricing as an important transportation
management strategy used in removing and/or reducing traffic congestion in the metropolis of
Accra. The prospects and problems of applying this strategy in the Accra metropolis would form
the major focus of this research. Traffic movement and congestion continue to be a serious
problem and as a result, it creates loss of precious man-hours and reduces productivity of both
the state and organizations. In Latin America, for instance, road transport accounts for more than
eighty percent of domestic passenger movements, and more than sixty percent of freight
movements (Estache et al, 2000:pp.235).
Road transport is also known to account for more than eighty-five percent of freight and
passenger movement in some countries such as Argentina and Brazil. In Sub-Saharan Africa
(SSA), including Ghana, it is estimated that roads carry 80 to 90 percent of the region’s
passenger and freight traffic (Heggie, 1994). Not only is the sector large, but it is growing
rapidly. In Asia, for instance, from 1984-1994 the road networks of Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia,
and Pakistan grew in length for more than five percent per annum. In Eastern Europe, countries
historically dominated by rail are now witnessing an increased demand for road transport. All
these increases have in no doubt contributed to the traffic congestion problem throughout the
world (Estache et al, 2000:pp.235).
Estache et al (2000:pp.235) stated that, because most road projects require investment with slow
amortization, many of these (road construction) projects will not generate sufficient demand to
make them self-financed through some type of user fee or toll. The road sector, they
acknowledged, will continue to be in the hands of the public sector, to a much larger extent than
the other transport activities. In addition, therefore, pricing decisions in this sector tend to be
influenced in many countries by strong trucking lobbies that aim at keeping cost recovery as low
as possible. However, fiscal crisis and competing demands from other sectors like health and
education are bringing changes in the extent of public- private partnership in the expansion and
operation of road networks. Governments throughout the world, including many poor African
and South Asian countries are commercializing their operations to cut costs, improve user
orientation, and increase sector specific revenue (Estache et al, 2000). To this point, Ghana
cannot be left out of the picture.
The phenomenon of traffic congestion itself is the result of many complex factors, among which
is the proliferation of lower capacity vehicles such as private cars, taxis, and to a very large
extent mini buses known in Ghana as ‘tro-tro’ (converted small cargo vehicles into passenger
buses). Throughout the world, the concept of road pricing has been known to have two main
merits. First, it is known for the generation of revenue for the metropolitan authorities to fund
other road projects in the metropolis and/ or the country. And second, the concept of road pricing
is used for congestion management. This forms the basis of this work. This work examined some
of the problems of traffic congestion critically, and the vital role of road pricing in solving the
problem. This review is done, having in mind the objectives enshrined in the urban transport
policy reform document of Ghana, designed in the 1990s as well as the white-paper of the
proposed Ghana transport policy document currently underway. We have also taken into account
the Road Traffic Offences Regulations of 1974 that came out of the Road Traffic Ordinance of
1952. All these documents were meant to control and/ or check the human elements that are
likely to lead to the problem under investigation.
Some specific objectives enshrined in the documents mentioned above were meant to improve
accessibility of the urban community to places of residence, employment, education, leisure,
shopping and to other important amenities. Again, reference was made to the enhancement of
the urban travel opportunities at affordable cost for the less mobile, including the urban poor;
non-vehicle owners; children; the elderly and the handicapped; and a host of others like the
opening of doors when cars are in motion; stopping of vehicles thirty feet near a junction; and
parking of vehicles on a road abreast of another motor vehicle. The researcher employed various
approaches to collect the relevant data for the study. Discussion and interpretations of the
findings took into account the conditions of the social milieu of the country, the global
occurrences, plus documents available in the transport sector (basically those on road
1.2 Definition of Some Concepts in this Study
Road pricing: This is a type of arrangement where motorists pay directly for driving on a
particular roadway or in a particular area. There is the Manual Road Pricing Scheme, which
includes the following: Area Licensing Scheme (ALS) and the Road Pricing Scheme (RPS). The
difference between these two is that the former is paid upon entering a specific area-called
restricted zone (RZ) whilst the latter is paid upon traveling on an expressway. It should be noted
that the area-licensing scheme is where low occupancy vehicles are charged for entering
congested areas during rush hours or periods. This is usually aimed at reducing the number of
private cars during rush periods by encouraging the use of public transportation. For this system
to work effectively and successfully there should be adequate public transportation for handling
the extra demand that would be generated.
There is also what is currently known as the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system. The ERP
was basically introduced so as to make the system run faster and also to correct some of the
shortcomings of the manual system. ERP therefore has three major groups of components. The
first comprises the In-vehicle Unit (IU) and the stored-value smart card. The second group
consists of the on-site ERP gantries, which include the antennae, vehicle detectors, and an
enforcement camera system that take pictures of the vehicles’ license plates as they drive through
the gantries. This group of components is linked to a controller on-site, and data collected are
transmitted to the control centre. The third group of components in an ERP system is the Control
Centre. This includes various servers, monitoring systems and a master clock to ensure timing at
all the ERP gantries are synchronized. All financial transactions are also processed here, before
they are sent to the bank for settlement by individuals. Again, violation images of offenders are
processed at this point, and letters are sent out to them. Therefore, the major difference between
manual and electronic road pricing lies in the fact that the former is human centered, whilst the
latter is technology based. The following are some of the various types of road pricing:
Congestion Pricing or Value Pricing; this refers to variable road pricing; a higher price under
congested conditions and lower prices at less congested times and locations. And, value pricing
is actually a marketing term that emphasizes that road pricing, can directly benefit motorists
through reduced congestion or improved roadways.
Cordon (area) Tolls; these are fees paid by motorists to drive in a particular area, usually a city
centre. Some cordon tolls only apply during peak periods, such as weekdays. This can be done
by simply requiring vehicles driven within the area to display a pass, or by tolling at each
entrance to the area or what is known simply as control points.
Vehicle Use Fees; these are distance-based charges such as mileage fees that can be used to fund
roadways or to reduce traffic impact including congestion, pollution, and accident risks. Other
alternatives are what Lo et al (1996) and Armstrong-Wright (1986) referred to as area licensing,
parking restraints, user taxes, and vehicle licensing restraints. They were, however, quick to add
that, these do not directly affect the root cause of congestion.
Control Points; these are entry points into the described area. At these points, there would be
enforcement personnel who check the screens of the vehicles to see if they have displayed the
road pricing licenses authorizing them to enter the area during the rush hours as stated in earlier
Optimal Use of Roadways; it is often times difficult to determine this concept. But for the
purpose of this work, the concept would be used to mean speeds on all CBD roads between
20km/hr and 30km/hr. For expressways, the speeds may be between 45km/hr and 65km/hr.
When speeds go above the upper limits, too few vehicles are deemed to be using the roads, and
hence the road space available is not being optimally used. On the other hand, when speeds fall
far below the lower thresholds one can say there is a problem of congestion because many
vehicles would be using the road, hence the need for action to be taken to maintain sanity, just as
in the case of the area selected for the study.
Optimal Average Speed; since in the Ghanaian case, there is not really a definition of the
concept, we refer here to the Singaporean definition, which means that on the expressways speed
has to be within the following range: 45-65km/hr. and, those of other streets should be within
ranges: 20-30km/hr. This implies that if speed is lower than 45-65km/hr on the expressways,
there is congestion. But if speed exceeds 65km/hr, there is under utilization of the roadway. This
explanation also holds in the case of streets.
Throughput; this refers to the number of vehicles that can actually travel from one point to
another point during or within a given time period.
Table 1.1 summarizes these different categories of road pricing and their objectives. Some
provide revenues, some reduce peak-period congestion, some reduce total traffic impacts
(congestion, pollution, accident risks, road and parking facility costs, etc.), and some help
achieve a combination of objectives.
Table 1.1 Road Pricing Categories
Name Description Objectives
Congestion A fee that is higher under congested conditions To raise revenues
pricing (value than uncongested conditions, intended to shift and reduce traffic
pricing) some vehicle traffic to other routes, times and congestion.
Cordon (area) Fees charged for driving in a particular area. To reduce
fees congestion in
Road space Revenue-neutral credits used to ration peak- To reduce
rationing period roadway capacity. congestion on
major roadways or
Source: VTPI, 2006
1.3 Some Assumptions Underlying this Study
The assumptions governing this study are as follows:
• It is assumed that there cannot be any more physical extension in the roads/streets
defining the enclosed area for the research. And, even if there were any such extension in
any of such roads in the future, they could not accommodate the growing travel demand
of the people.
• It is also assumed that with the coming into force of the road-pricing scheme, the
efficiency in the operations of the public transport sector (e.g. metro mass transport)
would be enhanced, as there would be more space available for them to provide reliable
service to the public.
• The coming into force of the road pricing scheme is expected to discourage people from
using low capacity vehicles (e.g. private cars etc), and use the pubic transport thereby
cutting down on non-essential trips to the area in question.
1.4 Statement of the Problem
The problem that this thesis seeks to address is how road pricing can help reduce traffic
congestion within the Central Business District of Accra. The following questions can then be
asked: how should traffic congestion be effectively managed to bring about such transformations
needed in the human society? What are the challenges or the problems that are likely to be faced
when embarking on road price implementation? Again, what are the likely prospects of
Pacione (2005, pp. 267) states as follows, “…the primary function of urban transport is to
provide mobility for people and goods within the city, but the efficiency with which this is
achieved is reduced by congestion”. Traffic congestion may simply be defined as a situation that
arises when road and rail networks are no longer capable of accommodating the movements that
occur on them (Turton et al, 1992). Yildirim (2001, pp. 3) also states that congestion is becoming
an inevitable part of everyday life in most metropolitan areas all over the world. He continued by
saying that, increasing population and wealth result in more automobiles than current
transportation networks can handle. Due to limited expansion possibilities of the transportation
network, congestion has increased drastically over the last decade.
The major cause of urban traffic congestion as identified by Pacione (2005, pp.267-268), “…is
the increasing number and use of vehicles on the roads. More specifically, it stems from the
concentration of travel flows at certain times during the day, with the principal reason for the
typical double-peak distribution of daily trips being the journey to and from work”. The
proliferation of low capacity vehicles such as taxis and ‘tro-tro’ or mini buses in the Accra
Metropolis have also contributed immensely to the problem. It must also be stated here that other
factors such as lack of proper road markings; narrowness of roads; and lack of necessary
intersections among others also contribute to the problem of traffic congestion in the Accra
Metropolis. Apart from the causes identified by Pacione above, other causes are the human
elements; for example lack of adequate pedestrian crossing points, drivers stopping anywhere
and anyhow in the network (at least in the Ghanaian case), selling/hawking in the streets, and
vehicles sharing the roads with pedestrians and, in some cases with animals.
According to the Ministry of Transportation’s brochure on the Urban Transport Project; Concept
Design of the Accra Pilot Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT), the population of the Greater Accra
Metropolitan Area (GAMA) will double in the next 15-20 years. And this will be associated with
a continuing trend of reducing population density, expanding built up area, improvement in per
capita income, and an estimated five fold increase in car ownership. It was stated that, currently
more than 70% of major roads in Accra are congested and the picture is likely to get worse
should current trends continue.
The document also acknowledges that the available road space in the Metropolis is used in an
inefficient manner. For example surveys conducted in 2004 showed that more than 70% of the
motorized trips in Accra depended on some form of bus transport (trotro and large buses), but
this together utilizes just over 30% of the road space. Cars and taxis on the other hand carry less
than 30% of the person trips, but utilize almost 60% of the available road space in the
It is therefore sufficient to state that traffic congestion in the Accra Metropolis has become a
serious nuisance if not an obstacle that hinders peoples’ socio-economic development as well as
the productivity of the entire country. Statistics show there have been increases in the number of
registered vehicles throughout Ghana, and more specifically in the Accra Metropolis. The total
urban road network in the country as of 2005 stood at 5,504km. This comprises both paved and
unpaved roads. In the Accra Metropolis alone, a total of 775 kilometers of the urban road
network was paved; representing 54% of the total kilometers of road network in the Metropolis.
A total of 658 kilometers was not, however, paved during the same time frame- 2005. This figure
(658km) represents approximately 46% of the total road network in the Metropolis of Accra
(Department of Urban Roads, 2006). This could also, although to a minimal degree, have effect
on the flow of traffic or movement.
Available data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) show that a total of
52,881 vehicles were registered in Ghana in 2000. Out of this figure, 23,021 were registered in
the Greater Accra Region (comprising the Accra Metropolitan Area, Ga District, Dangme West
and Dangme East) excluding the Tema Municipality. The Tema Municipal Area alone registered
a total of 13,400 vehicles in 2000. In 2001, there was a drop in the AMA figure to 18,092
representing a difference of 4,929. These numbers continued to rise and fall from 2002 to 2004
with an ending figure of 24,884 in 2005. These statistics clearly illustrate the unstable and
fluctuating number of registered vehicles.
In the year 2000, 27,552 private motor vehicles (PTE MV) with 2000 cubic capacity (CC) were
registered throughout the country. This figure was far more than the total number of registered
commercial motor vehicles (COMM MV) up to 2000 CC, which were only 5,104. In that same
year, however, the total number of registered buses and coaches stood at 5,469. In 2005, the
total number of PTE MV with 2000 CC stood at 22,949. Although this represents a drop in the
year 2000 figure, it nevertheless exceeded that of commercial motor vehicles, buses and coaches,
which stood at 6,686 and, 5,585 respectively. The table below shows these trends. It must be
noted here that, even though there were no figures available to the researcher concerning the
number of registered PTE MV; COMM MV; and Buses and Coaches solely for the Accra
Metropolitan Area for the period 2000 to 2005, the researcher estimates after a careful study of
the figures that, the numbers for the AMA would be far greater than all other districts in Ghana
given the level of concentration of socio-economic activities in the area.
Table 1.2 Vehicles Registered in Accra District, and Registered Categories in Ghana.
Year PTE MV COMM MV Buses & No. Of Registered Vehicles
Up to 2000cc Up to 2000cc Coaches in Accra
(Ghana) (Ghana) (Ghana) District
2000 27,552 5,104 5,469 23,021
2001 17,953 5,568 2,676 18,092
2002 18,512 6,015 2,601 20,884
2003 20,564 5,110 2,916 19,136
2004 20,333 7,642 4,882 21,458
2005 22,949 6,686 5,585 24,884
Totals 127,863 36,125 24,129 127,475
Source: Extracted from the DVLA compilations, 2005. NB: PTE MV ≡ Private Motor Vehicle. COMM MV ≡
Commercial Motor Vehicle. CC ≡ Cubic Capacity.
Clearly the increases in PTE MV contribute to the traffic congestion in the country; moreover the
Accra Metropolis nevertheless receives the greatest number of registered vehicles. This
phenomenon is partly attributed to the general increases in incomes and a lack of efficient public
transport system operations in the country’s capital city. Again, the availability of facilities such
as auto loans have led to the increase in private car ownership in the city of Accra. Regardless,
the fact still remains that the roads in the Metropolis still fall short of the travel demand of the
city dwellers, hence the problem of traffic congestion that has bedeviled the city for many years
now. This situation has led to loss of precious man-hours and general productivity over the years.
In spite of these developments, road pricing for travels within urban areas has not been adopted
in this country, and in most urban areas in the world, especially in third world countries. In the
Accra Metropolis, there are hardly any toll roads. It is difficult to generate funds locally (or
domestically) for the road sector. In the face of these, traffic continues to increase on most of the
roads during peak-periods (as described in coming paragraphs). Road pricing, has basically two
merits; first, it helps generate revenue for the construction and maintenance of the roads.
Secondly, it helps to manage efficiently the problem of traffic congestion on the roads, and in
selected areas of a city.
As a management strategy, road pricing has an advantage of reducing peak-period vehicular
traffic as well as shift travels to other modes (if available) and times considered desirable. In
terms of revenue generation, road pricing has an advantage in producing funds and helps to
maximize revenue or recover specific costs. A typical example here is the Singaporean model
where road pricing was recorded to have reduced traffic volume by about 10 to 15 per cent
(Victoria Transport Policy Institute, 2006). It must be stated here that it is a painstaking strategy.
Although the Ghana Road Fund Act of 1997 recognizes the potentials of road tolls as part of the
strategy to support the Fund, it should be stated that such a mechanism is not widespread to
generate the needed funds required for the road sector even though demand for travel and car
ownership has greatly increased over the years.
1.5 Goals/Objectives of the Study
The general aim of this study is to work towards unearthing the prospects and problems of
implementing road pricing in the Accra Metropolis as a measure to help reduce road traffic
congestion first in the Accra Metropolis, and possibly in other urban centres in Ghana. On a
more specific note, however, the study would work towards the attainment of the following
• to establish the connection between socio-economic variables (e.g. income levels) and
private car ownership;
• to examine the relationship that may emerge between road pricing and the patronage of
‘tro-tro’/ mini bus and taxi;
• to ascertain what the effects of road pricing would be on metro/public transport
• to make recommendations to guide policy formulation and policy implementation
1.6 Propositions Underlying this Study:-the following propositions have been carefully
formulated to aid in the discussion of field data:
• That a relationship may exist between road pricing and reduction in traffic congestion.
• That reduction in the number of low capacity vehicles entering the study area may be a
function of road pricing.
1.7 Conceptual Framework
Figure 1.0 shows the structure of the problem and its various components. It also shows the
effects of road pricing on the various elements. The framework holds that rising incomes would
generally lead to an increase in car ownership and thus more car travel, and together with other
factors such as population increases and urbanization, it is most likely that a further increase in
traffic congestion will occur, a situation that could only be described as chaotic.
The various consequences of the problem have also been shown in the diagram below (Fig. 1.0).
This would therefore result in less public bus travel hence higher bus fares and reduced services.
This situation, in the long run, is anticipated to lead to more car ownership; increases in car
travels; and more congestion. However, with the implementation of road pricing which is
anticipated to produce an efficient public transport system, there is the likelihood of achieving a
significant reduction in car ownership, and car travels, hence a concomitant reduction in
congestion, partly achieved through higher patronage of public transport. Below is the
diagrammatic representation of the framework.
Fig. 1.0 Showing the Relationship amongst the Various Components of the Problem
Difficulties Environmental Bus Delays Locational
for Impact and Change
Reduced Faster &
More Travel Travel
Fares & Higher Bus
Increased Fares and
SOURCE: Adopted and modified version of Pacione’s work (2005), pp. 271.
1.8 Justification/Rationale of the Study
During the last decade or so transport geography had shared with other aspects of the discipline
in a general swing towards ‘geography of relevance’ (Williams 1981, pp 22), quoted by
Farrington (1985). Farrington also states that, “…for the transport geographer this has included
for example the imperatives of defining and applying the concepts of accessibility, assessing the
role of transport in economic development and recognizing the environmental impact of
transportation. “First as geographers seeking a much more active role in the promotion of
human welfare” (Smith 1997, pp 1) and then as researchers offering explanations of such
activities, it is important that we take up the issue of road pricing and traffic congestion more
seriously as it ultimately borders on socio-economic development, and even on the politico-
cultural well-being of the citizens. In this spirit, this research tried to delve into the problem as
stated in previous paragraphs. Most of the literature available on transportation reveal a wide
spread belief in the importance of transport, and its efficiency in accelerating the developmental
process of a nation. Accordingly, the rationale of this work has been to bring to light the
prospects and problems one is likely to encounter in trying to implement road pricing in the
Accra Metropolis as a strategy to help reduce or curb traffic congestion in the metropolis.
The concept ‘Development’ still remains difficult to define in absolute terms. In this direction,
the perspectives of scholars such as Mabogunje, Addo and others should be taken seriously.
Mabogunje (1980) conceptualized development in modern times to mean socio-economic
transformation of society. Addo (1995) states as follows, “…it is pertinent to draw attention to
the view presently held by many scholars that development means something more than
economic growth (GNP) or economic development.” In this direction, for development to be
fully realized the researcher is of the view that people must have quick (or easy) access to their
places of work, residence, etc or in simple terms accessibility must be greatly improved to propel
us to develop more quickly. The question therefore is how should traffic congestion be
effectively managed to bring about such transformations in the human society? What are the
challenges or the problems that are likely to be faced when embarking on such a journey of road
price implementation? Again, what are the likely prospects of implementing it? These questions
form the basis or rationale behind this work.
1.9 The Methodology adopted for the Study
This comprised sources of data collection, the sampling design or technique, the target
population, and methods of field data collection and analysis.
1.9.1 Sources of Data
Relevant data for this research were collected from both primary and secondary sources. The
former source called for the use of structured questionnaires as well as interviews. Focus group
discussion (FGD) technique was also used. Cassette recorder was mostly used in capturing what
was discussed. The information on the cassette was then transcribed and used in the analysis.
Participant observation technique was also employed in collecting some relevant information
about the target population. With regard to the secondary sources, a great deal of lesson was
drawn from textbooks, geographical and economic journals on transport, working papers and
reports. The Internet and other sources such as policy documents on transport were all used.
The outcome of the field investigations (i.e. questionnaire administration and interviews) has
been thoroughly discussed in chapters four and five. Questions relating to places where people
reside and where they work were also posed to the people and these have been carefully mapped
out to give a general idea of the routes along which people travel into and from the CBD. Other
questions asked were; how education influences or affects peoples’ driving culture. To what
extent does this go to make people change their behaviour towards driving properly? Does
education matter at all when it comes to the issue of ability to own a car? And does this have
anything to do with the management and/ or control of traffic congestion on the roads in
Data on the incomes of some respondents and the numbers of cars they have were also collected.
This information made it possible to draw a correlation between income levels and private car
ownership. Most of the interviews were done alongside the administration of the questionnaires
except in some few cases where we had to conduct interviews separately due to the absence of
key leaders or opinion leaders. The whole data collection exercise of this work lasted six months,
starting from November 2006 to April 2007. However, the real field data collection started from
January 2007 to April 2007 (refer to Appendix D).
1.9.2 Sampling Design
Owing to the heterogeneous nature of the population, a stratified sampling technique was used to
sub-group the population as follows: commercial vehicle operators (i.e. taxi and tro-tro); private
car owners; public transport operators (metro transport etc.); policy formulators (i.e. Ministry of
Road Transport, Department of Urban Roads, Accra Metropolitan Assembly); and the general
public or commuters. The respective percentages have been shown in the table. A simple
random sampling technique was employed to each of the above-mentioned sub-groups to arrive
at the target population, which amount to 210. For instance in selecting the 48 general
commuters out of the 210, the table of random numbers was used. Three-digit numbers were
then read in the column of numbers. Hence the first 48 numbers in the column that had a value of
210 were written down. Each of these represents an individual in the 210 target population.
Table 1.3 below shows the distribution. The justification underlying this selection was to observe
the various responses from these different groups since road pricing scheme is bound to affect
them differently. This was also done to highlight the particular contributions of the different
groups and analyze them in a more scientific way. For instance it was necessary to give enough
sample size to the group of private car owners since road pricing is bound to affect them more
directly than other groups.
Table 1.3 Share of Target Population
SUB-GROUP SHARE PERCENTAGE
Commercial Vehicle 30 14.29
Private Car Owners/drivers 110 52.38
Public Transport Operators 20 9.52
Policy Formulators 2 0.95
General Public 48 22.86
TOTAL 210 100
Source: fieldwork 2006
1.9.3 Methods of Data Analysis
Data generated from the field for this study was analyzed using both descriptive and inferential
statistics. By descriptive methods of summarizing information, the researcher employed
techniques such as: percentage bar graphs, pie charts, frequency tables, and others such as
standard deviation, to summarize the raw information gathered from the field. To establish the
relationship between a rise in income and car ownership, a simple correlation equation such as
the following; Yi = a +bXi, was used where ‘Y’ is the dependent variable (car ownership), and
‘X’ is the independent variable (income), ‘b’ is the gradient or slope of the line of best fit, and
‘a’ is known as the ‘Y’ intercept if ‘X’ is zero, meaning the point at which the line of best fit cuts
Using the Least Square Regression Line where the value of ‘b’ and ‘a’ can be mathematically
computed as has been shown in Appendix B, one can suitably run a regression for the afore-
stated variables (income and number of cars), and from this one can proceed to make a
prediction of the variables in question. In running a multiple regression the Queuing Analysis
could also have been used, but since all the factors that cause congestion do not have numerical
values- for instance human behaviour cannot be mathematically quantified- there was the need to
use only the quantifiable variables thus the income and number of cars in the case of this work.
Using the simple equation above (all things being equal) one could predict car ownership should
income levels be known in advance. Assuming that government had increased salaries of
workers in a particular year, we could then predict the number of people who are likely to own
cars, or people who are likely to acquire additional cars. In their simplest form, therefore,
correlation studies are used to investigate the possibility of relationships between only two
variables (like the one stated above), although investigations of more than two variables are
common. A correlation study then describes the degree to which two or more quantitative
variables are related, and this is done by using the correlation coefficient (denoted by r), which
could also be expressed in percentage termed the coefficient of determination (denoted by r2 ).
The computations of these have been shown in appendix B.
The calculation of ‘r’ is in many ways similar to the Pearson’s product-moment coefficient of
correlation. The correlation research technique used here was to fulfill basic purposes such as; to
explain positive or negative relationships between variables. The outcome of ‘r’ as we shall soon
see, aided by the computation of the significance level would help in explaining if the
relationship between the two variables -income and vehicle ownership- was strong enough to
make a well-built case with. It is important to note that, in the simple predictive model or
equation above, the Yi is known as the predicted variable on Y (also known as the criterion
variable) for individual i’s, Xi is known as the individual i’s variable on X (or the predictor
variable), and ‘a’ and ‘b’ are then values calculated mathematically from the original variables or
scores as have been demonstrated in Appendix B. Again, for any given set of data, ‘a’ and ‘b’ are
LITERATURE REVIEW AND RELATED ISSUES
2.1 Chapter Overview
This chapter attempts a critical review of some available literature on the subject under
investigation-road pricing. The researcher critically reviewed the experiences of Singapore, Oslo,
Trondheim, Bergen, London, California, and those of other places. One cannot complete a
review of a study on road pricing without considering the economic perspective of the subject.
For this and other reasons, the study also ventured into a review of the economic discourse on the
implementation of road pricing and its’ potential to reduce road traffic congestion. The study
also looked into some of the barriers to the implementation of road pricing in the selected
metropolitan cities as well as other issues that border on the applicability and/or
implementability of the scheme. Some related issues on the subject (for instance the World
Bank’s study report on road pricing, 2000) have also been discussed in this chapter. Furthermore,
the benefits and costs issues of road price implementation have also been discussed here.
2.2 Literature Review
Chin (2002) remarks as follows, ‘road pricing is an important component of Singapore’s overall
transportation strategy’. This is perhaps why they have been able to reasonably manage the
situation very well up to this day. According to him while road capacity continues to be
increased judiciously in Singapore to meet rising travel demand, the strategy also calls for
greater reliance on public transport usage and demand management. This is a demonstration that,
we need to support road pricing scheme with the other means of traffic congestion management
such as the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project being proposed by the government of Ghana.
As part of a demand management strategy, Chin (2002) proposed the restraining of vehicle
ownership either through the imposition of high up-front ownership costs or restrictions on the
actual growth of the car population. The former type includes the custom duties and vehicle
registration fees, which amounted to almost one-and-a-half times that of the cars open market
value. This has somewhat been a policy in Ghana for some time now, but so far it has yielded
hardly any significant success in managing traffic congestion on our roads. The latter is managed
through a vehicle quota system. The other aspect of demand management that he also proposed
is to restrain vehicle usage through the levy, or a charge on motorists based on the quantity,
place, or time of the use of their cars. Generally, the more one uses his/her car, the more one has
to pay. Chin (2002) then declares that the road pricing schemes, petrol tax, diesel duty and
parking charges are measures in this category.
Pacione (2005) also asserted that in many countries road travelers pay to use intercity roads.
However, tolls for travel within urban areas have not been adopted widely enough. This is
nevertheless, the case in Ghana where even intercity tolls are very poorly organized, leading to
poor revenue mobilization as well as poor traffic control management systems. Chin (2002)
further concluded by saying that road pricing in Singapore has been effective in managing
congestion on roads in the central business district (CBD) since its inception in 1975 and in
recent years on expressways and other major roads outside the CBD. Technology, he noted, has
helped to make the expansion of the original road-pricing scheme possible and the authorities are
still keeping tab on new developments in road pricing technology to further enhance the present
In a similar report produced by the Swedish National Road Administration (SNRA, 2002, pp. 3),
it was reported that the Swedish Parliament’s decision on the continued development in the
transportation system, emphasized adapting road pricing as a measure to providing a sustainable
transport system. The planning was based on sub-goals of that parliament’s transportation policy
and parliament’s vision of what they desired to achieve. The planning has to satisfy both the
needs of transportation and the ambition to accomplish sustainable solutions. New effective
combinations of established as well as new and untried policy measures and inputs must be
considered and used in order to attain stipulated goals in that country. In this respect, the SNRA
then made use of a method involving a four-step principle with a focus on gradual testing of
measures starting with “Soft” measures that affect the need of transportation, choice of mode,
and efficiency to evaluate the problem.
It was not until such measures have been found insufficient for solving the problem that other
measures such as new road constructions or improvements were taken into consideration. This
Swedish experience of stimulating the need of transportation, choice of mode and efficiency as
well as the construction of new transportation facilities and improvements in the quality of the
already existing ones (roads) have been the approach closest to the Ghanaian scenario for some
time now. For instance, in the latest drafted National Transport Policy document (called the
Green Paper), all the kilometers of roads that have been constructed from 2000 to 2005 was
stated. This was perhaps done to emphasize the fact that the nation believes in the construction of
new road infrastructure as well as in improving existing ones as a mechanism in reducing traffic
congestion that have bedeviled our cities for a very long time, which we can say, is in many
ways similar to the Swedish case although the purpose might also be to maintain the road
network or infrastructure for future generations.
In Ghana the most dominant carrier of freight and passengers is the land transport system. The
Ghana National Transport Policy paper stated that in 2000 Ghana had an extensive road network
of 42,000 kilometers. In 2001 the figure stood at 50,000 kilometers, and by the end of 2005 it
stood at 60,000 kilometers. In 2004, 36 percent of roads were rated good, 27 percent were rated
fair, and 37 percent poor. These were improvements over previous years. In 1997 for example, it
was envisioned that roads could be improved to 70 percent good, 20 percent fair, and more than
10 percent poor by 2002, but these targets were not achieved. As mentioned in the same draft
document, improvement works on the roads have increased gradually. The sad aspect is that the
Ghanaian government would have to rely on borrowed funds to support the construction as well
as the improvement of the road network. The other aspect of the problem is due largely to
unplanned expansion and lack of local construction capacity and skills. Therefore, in many cases,
the cost of construction is too high and the roads are left to deteriorate until such time that funds
become available for the construction works to begin.
Congestion as indicated in the National Transport Policy document is a growing problem
creating costs to our economy, pollution, and higher risk for traffic accidents. There are
institutions in place to address the various needs and issues of our transport system, but our
transport agencies have prepared separate, mode-focused policies, which have not been
beneficial in a lot of ways. On the other hand, they served their purposes in the traditional
planning processes in the country. The Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy II (GPRS II), which is
to cover the period 2006 to 2009, is to accelerate the growth of the economy so that the country
can achieve middle income status within a measurable time period. And, in line with the
transport objectives for fulfilling the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
visions which are: - to reduce delays in cross-border movement of people, goods and services; to
reduce waiting time in ports; to promote economic activity and cross border trade through
improved land transport linkages and; to increase air passenger and freight linkages across
Africa’s sub-regions, the Government of Ghana, which is the provider of transport infrastructure
and to an extent provider of transport services and a regulator and controller in the field has
launched the Urban Transport Project aimed at saving the sector from further collapse.
The Ghana Urban Transport Project meant to improve transportation in the country, and help
develop a framework for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to plan,
regulate and manage urban transportation is a welcome news. The key objectives of the project
as stated are:
Improve mobility in areas of participating MMDAs through, a combination of
traffic engineering measures, management improvement, regulation of the public
transport industry, and implementation of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system.
Promote a shift to more environmentally sustainable urban transport modes and
encourage lower transport-related GHG emissions along the pilot BRT corridor in
The expected outcome of the investments on the pilot BRT corridor are; to reduce average travel
time for bus passengers, increase average travel speed for all traffic, increase productivity of bus
services (passenger share of large buses) and ultimately to reduce carbon dioxide (C02) emissions
along the pilot BRT corridor in Accra. But as has always been the case, we face a number of
challenges (policy-wise) towards planning and developing our road network. Funding for this
very project is coming from both Ghana’s development partners and the government, but the
bulk of the funds are coming from the former. This has always been the case. However, as stated
in the “Green Paper” now the “White Paper”, we must address a system of user charges that will
help raise revenues to cover maintenance, improvement works, and expansion costs. The Traffic
Engineering, Management and Safety component of the BRT under the Urban Transport Project
also spells out the need to deal with congestion; and road pricing, if adopted, could help fulfill
According to the SNRA (2002) report, road pricing in urban areas is an interesting measure for
solving and/or managing the problem of traffic congestion in most urban areas. It would be
observed that the Swedish Parliament had also, by their action, opened an opportunity for the
implementation of road pricing in interested municipalities and regions. The government, as
stated by the report, had asserted at the time that, this issue would be dealt with if there was a
proposal to implement road pricing as part of the strategy to help solve road traffic congestion
and related environmental, social and economic problems. This is a demonstration of the
commitment needed from policy formulators to get the scheme going. If Ghana is to use such a
scheme in solving the problem of congestion in Accra, one needs to see these actions
crystallizing in order to pave the way for successful implementation of such a programme.
In this direction, the SNRA (2002) report as well as other works may form the basis upon which
we should build the discourse in the Ghanaian context. The Ghanaian case is in many ways
similar to those of many other areas where road pricing has been adopted and/or tried or even
considered for many years now. The Ghanaian urban population is growing at quite an alarming
rate. The Greater Accra Region for instance, has remained the most densely populated region in
the country since the 1960s (Ghana Statistical Service report, 2002). The Population density has
increased from 167 persons in 1960 to 441 persons in 1984 and to 895.5 persons per square
kilometer as at 2000.
The Region’s intercensal growth rate of 4.4 per cent between 1984 and 2000 is much in excess of
the national average of 2.7 per cent per annum and this implies a doubling time of 16 years
(Ghana Statistical Service report, 2002). The total numbers of registered vehicles (both
commercial and private) as illustrated under the problem statement of this work are on the
increase. There is also pollution of our urban environment on daily basis as a result of an
increase in vehicle ownership due to increase in incomes and the consequent long queues that
occur on the roads. As mentioned earlier, most of the roads in the urban areas are also narrow.
Extensions can rarely be made possible as a result of the nature of the land use (i.e. location of
departmental stores, food stalls, residences, etc along the roads), and due to the difficulties in
raising adequate funds towards such projects.
The SNRA (2002) report stated that road pricing is still an untried measure in Sweden although
there are several theoretical calculations concerning its viability. The same can also be said about
other countries as well. The effects of road pricing on traffic; environment; business; housing;
and location together with the charges’ distributive effects and socio-economic consequences
cannot be contested. Many authorities in this field including transport geographers for several
years have conducted researches into the effects of road pricing on, for example, residential
location patterns. It is worth mentioning that this has been the situation in many places (both
developed and developing nations alike). However, the SNRA (2002) report states that when the
issue of road pricing was debated, there were many questions on its sustainability. Therefore,
countries seeking and/or wanting to adopt road pricing should consider the issue of
What one should therefore note is that, the Swedish and other case studies throughout the globe
are also reports of principal reasoning, calculations of concrete proposals and practical
experiences by experts. As published by the SNRA’s report (2002), in some cases in particular
when it comes to distributive effects, scientists do not quite agree on many of the issues. And, as
acknowledged by the same report, there are quite a number of studies concerning the calculated
effects of proposed road pricing systems; some of which have never been realized. It is therefore
appropriate for all to study these cases well enough, before making any attempt at
Yildirim (2001, pp.3) states that increasing population and wealth results in more automobiles
than current transportation networks can handle. This observation by Yildirim is very much in
tune with issues raised in the study’s conceptual framework. He further states that due to limited
expansion possibilities of the transportation network, congestion has increased drastically over
the last decade. Vehicle ownership in Ghana has increased, and would continue to increase in
coming years and this calls for better planning of facilities.
Arnott and Small (1994) estimate that one third of the vehicular movement occurs in congested
areas in 39 metropolitan areas of the United States with a population of one million or more.
They state that even without taking into account the additional factors such as lost work and
leisure time, health problems, stress, discomfort, cost of extra fuel, accidents, and air pollution,
the annual cost of driving in congested areas is around 48 billion dollars or 640 dollars per driver
in the USA. These figures make the problem of traffic congestion serious and very threatening
when nothing is done about it.
Interestingly enough, there has not been any quantitative appraisal of losses caused by
congestion in the Ghanaian situation as at the time of conducting this research. However, there
are significant annual loses in terms of the nations’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as in
social terms which most players in the field acknowledge. In most areas where the concept of
road pricing has been adopted, Yildirim explains that traffic planners often charge users in order
to restrain the number of travelers on the transportation network. By charging the users,
transportation planners try to achieve several objectives (Yildirim, 2001). Some of these
objectives enumerated by Lo et al (1996) and May (1986) as quoted in Yildirim’s thesis are: cost
recovery for planning, construction, operation, and maintenance of the network. This type of
objective is widely used by many transportation agencies to recover costs of building new
highways, tunnels, and bridges. In the context of congestion pricing, users can be charged by the
operation agencies to the extent of the congestion that they are causing on the transportation
network. An example the authors cited was the case of a privately owned toll road along side
SR-91 in Orange County, California.
Whilst agreeing that the Orange County case study is feasible, this might not necessarily hold in
the Ghanaian context. The Ghanaian situation calls for a completely different approach, while
drawing from the experiences of other parts of the world. As acknowledged earlier, we do not
have that huge traffic volume as compared to other places (like the developed nations) but what
makes the Ghanaian case alarming and urgent, is the inability to embark on physical extension
on the roads due to lack of adequate road space and funding vis-à-vis increase in vehicle
ownership which results in the complexity of other factors like loss in productive time etc.
The other objective why transport planners find it necessary and pertinent to charge road users is
the retrieval of negative externalities. The users of the roads are expected to pay not only the
direct cost including fuel and travel time but also the cost that they impose on others such as
additional congestion and travel delay that drivers create, air pollution and accidents amongst
others. All such additional costs are found to be negative externalities as the economists and
other players in the field (e.g. the transport geographers) term them.
The last reason why planners would like to charge users of roads is for demand management.
According to Arnott and Small (1994), when the use of the transportation resources is not
efficient (that is to say when some parts of the network are over congested compared to other
points), those segments can be tolled or priced in order to shift the demand from the over utilized
areas to other less congested roads. This they acknowledged might increase the overall efficiency
of the system. It is in this direction that this work is investigating the traffic congestion problems
in the Central Business District of Accra in order to observe the prospects as well as the
problems of using a road pricing scheme. It is hoped that if this traffic management strategy
coupled with others are adopted and tailored towards the need of the Ghanaian scenario, the
problem of daily traffic congestion that have bedeviled our roads would be resolved to a large
As Yildirim (2001) acknowledged, the significant contributions that road pricing could make
towards the reduction of traffic congestion cannot be over emphasized. The focus of his thesis
was on road pricing, which he states, is a traffic management tool that can be employed to charge
individuals based on the time, distance, and congestion level of the links they are using. He, for
example, mentioned the Marginal Social Cost Pricing (MSCP) tolls, which can be used to charge
the users of the roads for the negative externalities they impose on others. According to him, the
Marginal Social Cost Pricing (MSCP) toll is the most common form of road pricing and this is
what most economists term the First Best Pricing.
Yildirim further states that there have been several attempts to implement road-pricing projects.
Some of these attempts were successful while others failed because of strong public opposition.
He therefore acknowledged that the most important thing in the implementation phase has to do
with the public acceptance of the subject and it is only appropriate for a study of this nature to be
conducted to make the issues come into the public domain as well as to inform government
decision-making. In this direction, Yildirim’s suggestion becomes very relevant. He states that
users of the road should be informed and be persuaded that tolling the road will make life much
easier in terms of congestion and public transportation.
2.3 The Economists’ Perspective on Road Pricing
Economics, in the words of Hibbs (2003), is all about human behaviour in circumstances of
scarcity. In other words, how we humans behave and/or are likely to behave when confronted
with the realities of scarcity. “Anything not scarce has no price” (Hibbs, 2003). Therefore, by
bargaining with prices this represents relative scarcity.
Hibbs (2003) stated that bargaining takes place in a market which may be physical but which for
most purposes is the set of cash relationships that exist in a community that may be larger or
smaller and is increasingly worldwide. He further explains that the function of the market and
the aim of economic policy is to achieve two essential objectives; ‘the efficient allocation of
scare resources of all kinds combined with the satisfaction of effective consumer behaviour’.
Yildirim (2001) also acknowledges that economic theory argues that to achieve economic
efficiency in the market, the price of the good or service should be at its full cost to society. It is
important to indicate here that the type of efficiency being discussed by these two authors is
quite different from the understanding of other experts. They are here referring to economic
efficiency. In this direction, economic efficiency is not used in the same way as an engineer or
as a doctor may understand the term. What is efficient in economic terms is best described as
what is optimal (Hibbs 2003). Economic efficiency is balancing all the expressions of demand
that are shown by our decisions in the market. Effective demand on the other hand, implies a
demand backed up with purchasing power and willingness to pay.
Drawing from the above discussions it is important for one to know that transport is a user of
land – one of the factors of production alongside labour and capital. And, the relative scarcity
of land is reflected in its price. While there may appear to be plenty of land, price always
reflects the strength of demand. In other words, land is a scarce resource based on price and
demand. As acknowledged by Hibbs (2003) in the following quotation: “The interaction of
demand and supply means that the scarcity of land is at its greatest in cities and towns and its
lowest in rural areas.” As urban and transportation geographers and above all, as planners, this
should be of major concern to us.
Hibbs (2003) again stated that this scarce commodity, called, land is desired by a wide range of
users including transport. For example, land is desired for housing; industrial and commercial
uses; construction of hospitals; and other medical facilities; religious buildings; entertainment
and educational facilities; and open spaces (i.e. car parks, playing fields, cemeteries, etc) among
Hibbs (2003) further explains that not all of the uses mentioned above lend themselves to the
pricing of land, and that is, of-course the way in which the market turns to allocative efficiency.
Public parks in London would never be used if there had to be an entry price. Public libraries and
many museums are also free at the point of use, and as with parks and open spaces, this reflects a
general agreement that some things should be available for use in this way, for the general
benefit of the community.
The obvious question, one is likely to pose, is why then should the transport industry fall under
the pricing system? As Hibbs (2003) states, the fact that land for transport is essential for the
functioning of the city does not give it the right to any special priority within the general pricing
system, but leaves it in competition with all other users of the land as a scarce commodity, the
degree of scarcity varying with the concentration of demand and other factors. He further stated
that the market for land, though, is highly imperfect, and roads, as users of land, have no value in
the market since no one owns them. This is as a result the problem of opportunity cost of public
open space being one example, and one of the most serious weaknesses that arises in the
The situation therefore leads to what experts termed externalities or simply the external costs.
External costs in simple terms are all costs, which appear hidden and do not appear in a
company’s balance sheet and/or profit and loss account at the end of each year (Hibbs, 2003).
For example, a car, by burning petrol or diesel for energy emits pollutants that make the
surrounding fresh air ‘expensive’ in terms of the health hazards it poses to the public. Other
forms of environmental pollutions associated with the transport industry may be the following:
noise, visual intrusion, local air pollution, and the disposal of condemned/obsolete vehicles, each
of which imposes disutility upon people who suffer from their impacts. Accordingly, therefore,
all these costs are imposed on individuals but they are very difficult to be quantified or
measured. Another type of these external costs may be the consequences of accidents, the direct
impact of emissions on the environment (global warming, the depletion of the ozone, the direct
incidence of acid rain), and the emission of toxins which leads to poor health and actual
sicknesses, all of whose costs are left to go unpaid.
Hibbs’ (2003) statements and explanations are very much similar to that of Yildirim (2001). The
latter author for instance states that the social cost of travel includes both private and external
costs. The private costs, he said are direct such as gasoline costs, travel time, and automobile
users. The external costs too, he stated are those that travelers impose on other people such as
congestion, travel delays, air pollution, and accidents. Yildirim (2001) further explains that for
as long as these externalities remain under priced or even not paid for as also identified by Hibbs
(2003), the road network is then not used efficiently. Hibbs (2003) also confirmed that these
external costs are contributive factors to congestion on the network and it should be borne in
mind that this problem of traffic congestion is not peculiar to only advanced nations, but
developing nations as well, hence the need to take pragmatic steps to solve the problem.
Yildirim (2001) quoted the following authors; Pigou (1920), Armstrong-Wright (1986), Luk and
Chung (1997), and Arnott and Small (1994), all of whom recommended Marginal Social Cost
Pricing (MSCP) tolls as the best form of road pricing that is equal to the negative externalities
imposed on other users in order to have an efficient utilization of the transportation network,
since economic theory argues that to achieve economic efficiency in the market the price of a
good, or a commodity, or a service should be at its full cost to society. The case made by these
authors is justified to a large extent. The question still remains whether transportation facilities
should continue to be provided free of charge to society? Should traffic congestion also be
allowed to continue to be an impediment to movement and to development? For this and other
reasons, one must do a critical analysis of the situation and come out with the best practice to
solve the problem.
To put the concerns expressed by economists more diagrammatically, let us take a look at the
relationship between demand for travel and price as demonstrated in the figure below. This was
adopted from Yildirim’s work.
Fig. 2.0: Supply-Demand Equilibrium in Traffic Networks.
Cost per Trip
tS tU Number
Source: Yildirim (2001)
The demand curve illustrates how much road users are willing to pay for road use. The area
below the demand curve is the total user benefits gained for the road travel. Yildirim (2001)
explained that an individual user entering the road would face only the cost he or she bears
which is usually a combination of vehicle operation costs and the cost of travel time. The cost, he
said, rises with the number of trips, while congestion increases the travel time and decreases
vehicle operating efficiency and travel speeds.
However, the marginal costs represent the effects of adding one extra vehicle or trip to the traffic
flow. Marginal costs include all private costs plus external ones such as delays, pollution, and
accidents. He went on and explained that the extra user affects all other users and the marginal
cost is always higher than the average cost. When the road demand approaches the capacity of
the road, there is a substantial increase in both travel time and delays to other vehicles.
In figure 2.0 above, according to Yildirim (2001), users have an incentive to take the next trip
until the total demand‘t’ reaches ‘tU’. For‘t’ < ‘tU’ the benefit gained is less than the cost
incurred. In his estimation, when there is no incentive for the next user to take the trip i.e.
demand is at ‘tu’, the system reaches user equilibrium. However, at this demand level, economic
efficiency in the market is not yet achieved, and when the level of road use is equal to ‘tS’, the
marginal social cost of road travel is equal to the marginal user benefit given by the demand
curve. At point ‘ts’ the economic efficiency is now achieved and this is known as the system
optimal point. In order to have the user equilibrium at ‘ts’, economists argue that the users
should be charged a toll in the amount CB - CA, which is called the MSCP toll.
Yildirim (2001) further explains that the MSCP tolls are optimal in the sense of changing user
behaviour to system optimal behaviour. This makes MSCP tolls one of the most popular tools
for road pricing application. It is no wonder that MSCP tolls achieve the optimal utilization of
the transportation system. And, it should be noted that optimization refers to the economic
efficient use of the network. The issue of pricing the road could not have been stated more
accurately than in these words of John Hibbs (2003, pp.66):
“Despite the beneficial tendency of the market to bring about economic efficiency and
the satisfaction of effective demand, the transport industry, like any other, is subject to a
range of weaknesses that interfere in the process. These are largely the results of
circumstances of which the normal costing and pricing decisions cannot or do not take
account. So the costs and benefits involved are not brought to book. It is desirable that
these externalities be internalized as far as possible in the interest of efficiency and
effectiveness, and one major step in this direction would be to introduce a charge or
price for the use of the roads. Other externalities such as pollution, accident costs, and
consequences for the environment more generally may prove more difficult to deal with
and this gives rise to pressure for intervention and statutory control…” (Hibbs, 2003.
In spite of the widely accepted economic position on this subject, there is however some
disagreement among some economists and other experts. The economist Crew (1969) disagreed
strongly with Tipping on his view about road pricing and its potential effect on reducing
congestion. The position of Tipping as quoted by Crew is as follows:
“It seems reasonable to suppose that sooner or later (depending on the elasticity of
demand and the valuation of time etc.) roads will become just as congested as they were
before the pricing system was introduced. Road users would then be demonstrating their
willingness to consume a service at the “cost” of providing it. Market forces in other
words would be operating to secure an optimal resource allocation, but what about the
rest of the population? There is no market in which they can purchase what they may
need; namely, protection from the undesirable features of motor traffic” (Crew, 1969).
Crew (1969), explains that Tipping’s conclusion as stated in the above quote on the scope of
road pricing is very much in opposition to the view held by most economists. He stated that first,
the analysis provided by Tipping is incorrect, and secondly that Pareto optimal solution for roads
depends on pricing and the state of the law.
Crew further explains that Tipping’s idea that “the roads will become just as congested as they
were before the pricing scheme was introduced” is based on the view that the system cannot be
expanded and the misconception that once a price is derived it will never be changed. On this,
Crew explained that if demand for road space increases the marginal social cost of congestion
(e.g. pollution, accidents, etc.) will increase and the price will be raised in equality with this.
Crew also observed that Tipping’s concern on the need to protect the population from “…the
undesirable features of the motor traffic…” is undoubtedly an important point. However, in
pointing out the problem, he goes too far in casting doubt on the applicability of road pricing in
this case. It is now proposed to show that road pricing will play an integral part in the solution to
this problem. The solution depends on optimal pricing within the framework of the law. Crew,
therefore proposed that, two polar liability rules should be adopted in the case of automotive
travel-that the automobile users shall be liable in damages for all or none of the effects of its
operations. It is then left to the government to choose or decide on a set of liability rules
between these two extremes. A different Pareto optimum, he said, corresponds to each and every
liability rule. Hence, the choice is now left to the government on which liability rule to adopt and
then use pricing to attain the Pareto optimum.
This position Crew observed was quite different from what Tipping was saying. Tipping says:
“…pricing can then be used to achieve this chosen level of traffic”. Crew, however, stated that
the government cannot just decide upon some level of traffic and price to get this if they wish to
attain a Pareto optimum without deciding upon a liability rule, and once this is decided upon,
pricing can be used to attain the Pareto optimum, not some arbitrary level of traffic.
To sum up, the economic discussions on the subject at stake demonstrates the potentiality of road
pricing in reducing traffic congestion in the transportation network. Nevertheless, there remain
some questions to be answered since there are disagreements and/or disenchantments among
certain economists. But one cannot doubt the potentialities of road pricing in checking traffic
congestion as well as helping governments finance new transportation networks and creating
public transportation amongst others.
Christainsen (2006) also observed that elementary economics teaches us that an excess demand
of a good or service can be eliminated if its price is raised sufficiently high. According to him the
demand for roadway use is no different. He observed that chronic traffic congestion indicates
that there is an excess demand for roadway use, but in most cases, there is no explicit price
charged for driving on streets and highways. Christainsen (2006) remarked that, gasoline (or
fuel) taxes may just mildly discourage driving (like in our case in Ghana, fuel taxes do not deter
people from acquiring vehicles and driving), but these fuel taxes, as acknowledged by the author,
do not charge vehicles according to time and place. Roadways, the author observed, may be
mostly free of vehicles at some times and places, but they may be extremely congested at other
times and locations.
Christainsen (2006) observed further that traffic patterns might change over the years. Road
pricing offers the possibility of targeting specific thoroughfares at specific times for more
intensive traffic congestion. If the prices charged bear a reasonable relationship to the supply and
demand for roadways, there are also payoffs with respect to information about driver preferences
and road construction. He acknowledged for instance that if prices are so high, some users might
decide to car-pool, change time of their travel, or use an alternative form of transportation. In
short, a higher price is an indication to travelers to consider changing their behaviours, but the
people involved make their decisions based on their own information about circumstances of
time and place.
Christainsen (2006) further observed that some travelers may have close neighbours who
commute to the same general place or area at about the same time and may prefer to carpool.
Others may not know their neighbours very well, or their neighbours may commute to other
locations. In the presence of a higher price, some may prefer another form of transportation, and
some people may still not, but continue to drive in their own cars, but can take another route. He
intimated that, others cannot, and in the long run, some people may even change their residence.
Others, however, would still prefer to stay put. By contrast, a decision by public authority to set
aside a highway lane for carpool during rush hours presupposes that a certain amount of
carpooling is an appropriate response to the existence of traffic congestion (Christainsen, 2006).
The car-pool lane, he argued, may be underutilized, and the congestion problems of the other
highway lane may actually worsen because most drivers are now denied access to one of the
The central issue, is whether it is better to rely on the information available to a relatively
handful of public officials, who then make decisions for everyone else, or to just establish a
market price to which thousands of people can respond on their own information. The fact here
is that, the potentials of road user pricing in curbing the congestion menace on our roads remain
2.4 The Geography of Road Pricing Around the Globe
There have been several attempts to implement road pricing in many metropolitan cities around
the globe. The oldest of such attempts is the Singaporean example in June 1975. The
Singaporean experience has become associated with road pricing by most researchers, planners,
as well as players in transportation. Since 1975, many changes have been made to this scheme.
Initially the scheme started with a manual (paper license) scheme where paper permits were
issued out to motorists, but over the past thirty-one years it has evolved into an electronic system
that operates almost throughout the day charging motorists for as many times that they drove
pass a gantry.
Singapore with a population of 3,665,920 (a little bit more than that of the city of Accra) and
with a total vehicle number in the city of approximately 707,000 and the city’s size covering a
total of 647.5 square kilometers lost one-third of its potential city products due to travel delays
amongst other things (Victoria Transport Policy Institute, 2006). When the government in 1975
under the leadership of the then Prime Minister- Lee Kuan Yew realized the situation, they began
to enforce an area-licensing scheme for restraining traffic volumes. The road pricing scheme
combined with other vehicle fees (such as custom duties, taxes on petrol, etc.), and the limitation
placed on the number of vehicles in Singapore significantly reduced traffic and reduced air
pollution. Owing to the success that the first scheme achieved, the plan to implement the scheme
on all of Singapore’s major highways was brought to the table. For similar implementation,
however, Yildirim (2001) stated that certain prerequisites such as public acceptability,
appropriate technical features, and complementary transport strategies have to be met. The
Swedish National Road Administration (SNRA, 2002) which the national authority assigned the
overall sectorial responsibility for the entire road transport system also stated that Singapore was
the first country to implement a type of area-based system which is considered by many as the
first road pricing model in the world. The SNRA (2002) report remarked that by the fall of 1998
it was made a completely automatic system called the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system.
SNRA (2002) further stated that the background for implementing road pricing in Singapore was
the high exploitation of land and rather high standard of living, and these factors made traffic
restrictions necessary. The purpose of implementing such a system as stated by the reports was
to regulate traffic in order to improve accessibility of the general public. The basis for the charge
was to achieve a target speed that gave improved accessibility. If the average speed drops, the
fees that one paid for using the roads as identified by the report increases and vice versa. The
fees are quarterly reviewed, and specified on electronic billboards at every gate. The
environmental components of the fee did not, however, commence with the introduction of the
system until the year 2001.
Again, on the Singaporean experience, electric and hybrid vehicles pay lower fees. The charges
vary between different locations, types of vehicles and hours. The revenue generated from the
system went into national accounts and is not distinguished from other state revenues. The state,
region, and the municipality being one and the same facilitated the political process for the
smooth implementation of road pricing and use of the revenues. Singapore’s road pricing
represents a model for many cities across the world, but one needs to device a system that suits
their own conditions and also acceptable by it’s citizens.
Norway introduced road pricing in three of its urban centres. These are Oslo, the city of
Trondheim and Bergen. In 1986 Bergen became the first city in Norway to charge on existing
roads to finance new infrastructure. Eighty percent of the revenue realized from this toll system
was used to extend the road network, and the remaining twenty percent was used to improve the
city’s public bus or transport system. This is so different from the Oslo case, as the purpose of
the Oslo toll system was solely to finance new investments in the road network that otherwise
would have taken too long to complete.
In Bergen’s experience the toll only applies on weekends (daytime), which is not surprising,
because the most affected areas where traffic begins to build up is during the day. As was the
case in the Singaporean model, the Bergen city toll system also started operating as a manual
scheme, but was latter changed to the electronic system. SNRA (2002) reported that the
agreement by the city authorities of Bergen was originally planned to last until the turn of the
year 2002, but it has been prolonged for another ten years with the possibility of an additional ten
Oslo’s Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system was launched in 1990. The reason for introducing
this policy was simply due to the increasing road congestion during the 1980’s. The purpose of
the Oslo road toll system was to finance new investments that otherwise would take too long to
complete. Accordingly, the Norwegian Parliament took a resolution to contribute with half their
financing. The remaining fifty percent of the required funds, as stated by the SNRA (2002)
report was to be covered by the road toll revenues for the period 1990 to 1997. As stated by this
report, the emphasis of the Oslo example was on new road construction, and the purpose of the
new roads and passages was a transfer of traffic and thus alleviation of the situation in the central
part of the city.
Following this development a ring of 19 toll stations were set on all roads leading into central
Oslo. The payment was either an electronic or manual or through coin drops, but as at today,
most of the vehicles in Oslo pay electronically. There is a 24-hour charge for vehicles (except
emergency vehicles, scheduled buses, and motor cycles). It is interesting to note that as at 2002,
the fee was 15 NOK, and the cost for a monthly pass was around 400 NOK. Heavy trucks pay a
double fee. The tolls were to be revoked in 2007, but now a second period is being discussed
and will include more investments in public transport. What this, therefore, means is that the tolls
might remain for a longer time than it was originally planned. In the Oslo case, one reason to
extend or prolong the period of the toll system is that there is not enough time to finish the
investments stated in the first package and that new investments are now being discussed
It should be stated here that in both cities’ experiences (i.e. Oslo and Bergen), there seems to
have been room for physical extension in the network, and there was a room to provide new road
investments, but in the case of Accra central, where the attention of this study is directed, there
can hardly be any physical extension in the network owing to the current land use. Under these
and other constraints, however, the most feasible solution or appropriate measure is to use part of
the revenues that would be generated from such a scheme to provide new investments in the road
network. Again, investments should also be made in public transport systems to cater for the
urban and rural poor (i.e. to provide Metro Mass Transport which is currently in operation across
the country). By so doing, there would be alternative means (or modes) for both motorists and
the general public as a whole.
The city of Trondheim in Norway is also known to have adopted the road-pricing scheme since
the year 1988. The city of Trondheim has a population of 140,000 (VTPI, 2006). The interesting
thing to note is that the figure is much less than the population of Accra. Trondheim’s road
pricing charging area is approximately 4km by 6km. It is worth mentioning that Trondheim had
the world’s first electronic road pricing scheme for entering a city, and a total of seven toll zones.
Subsequently, this later came to be known as the Trondheim toll ring.
As was the case in Oslo and in Bergen, the purpose of the Trondheim scheme was to finance new
road infrastructure. However, part of the revenue was also used to finance public transportation,
environmental measures, and passages for pedestrians and bicycles were to be provided free of
charge to city dwellers. In the city of Trondheim, over 80% of those using the system have
transponders on their windshield (SNRA, 2002). At the same time, there were also payment
machines and a few manned stations. As far back as 2002, the charge was 15NOK per gate
passage. A monthly subscription was discounted by 20 to 50%. There was no extra charge for
additional passengers within the same hour (SNRA, 2002). According to this same report fees
applied between the hours of 6am and 6pm in the city of Trondheim and the charge is lower
during off peak hours. Again, it was stated in the report that there were ongoing trials as at the
same time with ten differentiated fees to control traffic levels, although this is limited by the
existing legislation during that time. The ultimate aim of the Trondheim system is to achieve a
transition to a road-pricing scheme that controls traffic when the present agreement expires.
Trondheim therefore implemented what became known as ‘toll ring’ that surrounds the city’s
downtown area. The ‘toll ring’ has 12 toll stations and uses a total of 35 lanes. Each tollbooth
according to the Victoria Transport Policy Institute (VTPI) operates with an electronic card
system used by 80% of drivers entering the city and the other 20% use the coin machines or
magnetic strip cards, which are available at all twelve booths. Rates range from 0.62 U.S.
dollars to 1.56 U.S. dollars with a peak charge between 6am and 10am. It is also recorded that as
a result of these pricing schemes, inbound traffic has declined by 10% during toll periods while
non-toll period traffic has increased by 9%. Again, it is reported that weekday bus travel has
increased by 7%. As indicated in previous and/or earlier discussions, revenues are used for road
infrastructure, public transit, and pedestrian and bicycle facilities.
Some of the benefits of the Trondheim road pricing scheme as stated by the Victoria Transport
Policy Institute (VTPI) were the following: immediate dip in peak rush hour traffic by 10%;
revenues from the tolls have also been used to improve roads and build by-passes to cut traffic
congestion. The income is also used to give commuters other options by upgrading public
transits, building bicycle paths and even providing two hundred free bicycles for use in
downtown Trondheim. According to the VTPI, initial public opinion of about 72% opposed the
implementation of road pricing. This figure dropped to 48% two months after the launch of the
scheme, and reduced further to 36% in 1996.
Still in Europe, Italian cities have since 1992 had the opportunity to introduce entrance checks
and, levy a fee to protect the cultural and historical values and monuments of their cities (SNRA,
2002). This was not to reduce traffic congestion per se as was the case in other places
mentioned. However, the Italian case had an implicit purpose of reducing traffic congestion in
the cities. In Rome for example, the so-called ‘blue zone’ has existed since 1989 as a means to
protect half of the city core. Between 6:30am and 6pm Monday through Friday, and between
2pm and 6pm on Saturdays, a part of the city center was closed to all vehicles not having a
special permit (SNRA, 2002).
So then, in Rome everyone living and working within this zone and certainly other persons
(except visiting clients, medical doctors, etc) can get permission to drive into the zone. The
report also further states that since 1988, however, everyone but the residents have to pay for
permission that costs a bit over 300 Euro per year, which corresponds to the cost of an annual
public transport pass. The check is completely done manually.
In the city of London, it was noted that since February 17, 2003 authorities have charged a
5pounds daily fee for driving private vehicles in an eight square mile central area during
weekdays as a way to reduce traffic congestion and raise revenues for transport improvements.
However, road pricing has been discussed for many years until now. The background to the
London plan was that the mayor, Ken Livingstone, considered the traffic situation to be the most
important issue in the elections. An automated system checks vehicles entering the charging
zone against a database of motorists who have paid the fee. According to the report, despite
considerable controversy, the programme was implemented without major problems, and has
substantially reduced traffic congestion. It has also improved bus and taxi service, and is
A previous government, as noted by the report, established the legal possibility for road pricing.
Londoners, as it was noted, considered congestion to be the most urgent traffic issue since
motorists in central London spend about 50% of their travel time in queues. So, the purpose of
the London plan was primarily to reduce congestion in the road network but at the same time, to
obtain revenue. The revenue will then be used to subsidize traffic investments in both road
network and public transport at least for the first ten years (SNRA, 2002). The charge levied on
trips in central London (an area of about the same size as the inner city of Stockholm) between
7am and 6:30pm on weekdays was 5 pounds per day for cars and 15 pounds for trucks. The fee
is per day and remains the same no matter how much you drive during the day. Residents of
central London reserve the right to buy a discounted weekly pass. Buses, taxis, motorcycles, and
emergency vehicles were exempted under the scheme. There were other exemptions for a low
annual or one time fee for the disabled and for the environmentally adopted cars.
In central London the technique adopted was not toll stations. Instead, it involves taking a photo
of all vehicles traveling in the zone. The number on the registration plates of the vehicle was
compared with a register of vehicles having paid in advance. Cameras were placed at the
boundary as well as within the zone. It should, however, be stated that the proposed scheme of
Accra, need not necessarily start or begin with all of these advanced technologies. It may simply
begin with a manual system as was the case in Singapore and later be fully automated. In any
case, the proposed Accra scheme should follow the basic principle of tax collection; where the
expenditure incurred in collecting the tax (road pricing in this case) should not exceed the
revenue to be collected. In this way, we can be assured that there would be excess revenue to be
used in financing the transport sector.
SNRA (2002) report acknowledges that at the time of compiling their report, there were already
advanced plans to implement road pricing in many places all over the world. In Britain, apart
from the city of London, an additional number of British cities (the city of Bristol, Leeds and
Edinburgh) were close to finalizing plans on the subject. Most definitely, London’s experience
would be of great importance to those cities as well as to other cities around the globe seeking to
implement the scheme. It is noted that other cities such as Dublin in Ireland, Auckland in New
Zealand, and Tokyo in Japan are also seriously discussing road price implementation (SNRA,
We have so far been discussing the geographic spread of road user pricing, more specifically,
talking about where there were attempts to implement the scheme, and where there has been
some appreciable amount of success in the effort to implement the scheme. It is now time to take
a look at some of the proposals that were abandoned after plans were far advanced in
implementing the scheme. The abandonment of such projects was due to several reasons, some
of which have already been mentioned in earlier paragraphs. Yildirim (2001) for instance
associated some of these to strong public opposition. This reason, however, seems to be the
single most common grounds for abandoning such projects as we shall soon see. On this point,
Yildirim recommended that the most important thing in the implementation phase of road pricing
is the public acceptance of the road-pricing project. In this direction he said;