transportation module viability study       written and researched by mr.tom.n@gmail.com                   conducted 26/04...
Contents                    1.0 Summation of findings2.0 Recommendations for transportation module        3.0 Recommendati...
1.0 Summation of findingsThe potential benefit of developing a transport module is foundwithin the numerous practices of t...
2.0 Recommendations for transportation moduleThere are perhaps two positions that should               system.be considere...
are constantly shifting, certainly those that exist      possibilities of user derived content about theoutside the countr...
3.0 Recommendation in terms of esoko3.1 Trusted party                                          3.3 Increasing salesCurrent...
4.0 Findings4.1 Driver’s resources                                   The money that the driver makes from these small     ...
The payment for the transportation may have been          vehicle is loaded, a busy station may delay for apaid upfront or...
The oil is also changed approximately once every         as bandits.three trips in order that the car is in good shape.   ...
This level of control extended all the way into the        4.11 Police, customs, tolls and weigh stations.destinations of ...
5.0 Transport research – esokoWhat follows are summarised versions of interviewsmade over the period of the study. it does...
They are developing the new 2010 transport act.                                                        One of the areas th...
often traded to buyers from the south. Being form        have money to buy and that this is the case for thethe south they...
of charcoal can be reached. The yam buyers are              in the south are aware of the load in the north theyalready wa...
and in this way they continue to dominate the           interior so Takoradi has a reasonably high pricemarket. The onions...
of the loads they are responsible to check that the     drivers are given a slip of paper that details theload is as they ...
however as he admits that he doubts that he will          be found they are also collecting things from thefind a load in ...
begin to trust each other and allow one another to      open to outsiders. They use loans from the bank tobuy on credit.  ...
around, he complains that he was not paid until the     30 times and the amount they pay in bribes is more25th of the prev...
what time of the night. The drivers had previously        with the different vehicles is not so easy. He hasmentioned that...
development levy that is paid to the office. Theyexpect that the money will be used to build officespace as well as to del...
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Esoko

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An exploration of the use of information amongst Ghanian truck drivers

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Esoko

  1. 1. transportation module viability study written and researched by mr.tom.n@gmail.com conducted 26/04/2010 - 26/05/2010
  2. 2. Contents 1.0 Summation of findings2.0 Recommendations for transportation module 3.0 Recommendation in terms of esoko 4.0 Findings 5.0 Transport research 6.0 Map of research 7.0 Additional data on Techiman
  3. 3. 1.0 Summation of findingsThe potential benefit of developing a transport module is foundwithin the numerous practices of the transportation system thatwaste the time, money and fuel of the participants. Whether thisis a driver driving empty in search of a load, a buyer standing withtheir goods in need of transport or a stationmaster delaying awaybill for lack of information.These instances are all responsible for the hiking of prices in orderthat the costs of the inefficacies are met.The esoko system can produce more money within the systemby reducing the cost of doing business, these cost reductionsshould be then past on to those either side of the transportation,in essence allowing the buyer to pay more for goods or buy moreof them, this should reduce prices of foodstuffs due to the greatersupply of goods.For the esoko system the inclusion of transportation allows for thepossibility of recordable and trusted trading through the inclusionof third party guarantors. This can bring the esoko system to apoint that more closely mirrors the manner in that business isconducted, the relational character being more closely involved.There are strong hierarchies at work within the markets of Ghanaand esoko benefits little from their exclusion by integratingaspects of these associations, as with the MOFA remunerators,esoko stands better placed to realise its ambition to movetowards remote trading and acquisition of goods.The reality of developing the functionalities and reaching theagreements needed to implement the system described below areby no means easy. I do however believe that in order for esokoto succeed in terms of the movement of more than informationit has to align itself to a trusted transporter of goods. Until it isable to foster a belief in the physical relocation of items acrossits network there is little chance of people adopting it on thoseterms.
  4. 4. 2.0 Recommendations for transportation moduleThere are perhaps two positions that should system.be considered as to the viability of producing a In terms of climate change one of the biggesttransport module; firstly there is the question of its expenses is fuel so this can be neatly woven intobenefit to transporters specifically. Secondly there any discussion of its potential benefit.is the question of what it may mean for the currentesoko platform. 2.3 Driving empty2.1 Union organisation & access The frequency with that this occurs unfortunately seems to affect most drivers once or twice bi-The marked movement of the union away from monthly, for drivers of particular vehicles going towelfare and towards becoming a semi-corporate some destinations (such as articulators moving tologistics and buying organisation provides the the north) it is rather the rule. The decision to driveunion with some difficulties. Although its stations empty is fuelled by a lack of knowledge of an area,are usually competently run and well aware of the the belief that loads cannot be found and oftenlocality with that they operate data held in one the visual impact of seeing other cars waiting forstation is only held in that station and is unable loads at a station. This situation may be helped ifto interact with that of other stations. Besides the information concerning the arrival of trucks couldmeetings of stationmasters held a few times a year be held by the destination station prior to theirthere are no mechanisms for the movement of arrival.information. Currently some stations are advertisingon the radio to boost sales, giving out phone 2.4 Aggregationnumbers for extra business. It would seem thatfor the unions to continue to prosper they will at This could allow traders within the destination areassome point have to move towards a centralisation to consider loads that they may not have withoutof data. Some of the stations have computerised the notification of transport. A possible automaticdata already but as yet it is still static. The ability aggregation of goods within the system, of linkingto organise themselves will ultimately become a geographically close offers to produce larger loadsnecessity and the growth of transport companies that would allow a single truck to move amongstattains to this. the producers rather than the aggregation of buyers reliant on personal association and knowledge. This2.2 In terms of drivers may produce the possibility of more loads.Drivers have less work than they used to, this is 2.5 Route planningblamed on the financial crisis, the NDC, previouspolicies of the NPP. Cheating market women, police Automatically producing a suggested waybill forinterference, the growing numbers of trucks and the stationmaster that provides what the systemthe adoption of Kia cars by store owners reducing considers the most direct route would reduce theworkload. time needed for waybill creation. This can be aIt is abundantly clear is that within the systems process that holds the drivers up at the station.that direct the work of drivers there are a number This in an afternoon will increase the number ofof inefficient practices that produce financial leaks police check points that a vehicle will have to paythat operate to increase prices and decrease the money to. Also it is not clear that stationmastersmoney spent on goods. If these holes can be filled always know the quickest route. For some stationsthen there will ultimately be more money in the the destination is very regular but for others they
  5. 5. are constantly shifting, certainly those that exist possibilities of user derived content about theoutside the country are often unknown. positions of attacks and safety on the road. This system if wanted could move to include information2.6 SOS about mechanics and breakdowns.The SOS service currently relies upon the end 2.8 Load finderstation or the originating station to basically stumpup the truck needed to rescue the goods. This For drivers that are waiting at a station with ameans that the cars that come travel often large long queue ahead, the possibility of providingdistances to collect goods on a long route. This information about the closest and least suppliedmay be the difference between goods spoiling or station might reduce the circumstance of driversnot. If the SOS could be organised from the closest choosing to travel without knowledge of a load, onstation with a suitable truck then it is possible that the off chance. It would allow drivers to move tothis circumstance might be changed. It is also true areas of demand rather than waiting. This wouldhowever that there are barriers of pricing cost to allow circumstances where buyers are awaiting pickthis notion. up with crops that are spoiling to be reduced.2.7 SMS pushThe existing ‘push’ function could be put to gooduse with the integration of a map function and theability to automatically group drivers within thesystem. Should road conditions change driverscurrently alert stationmasters, this information isthen fed to the drivers, it however relies upon thestationmaster and does not necessarily reach anyof the other cars that have originated from otherstations, centralising this data would allow forgroup alerts.The same could be argued of the bandits and the
  6. 6. 3.0 Recommendation in terms of esoko3.1 Trusted party 3.3 Increasing salesCurrently the trading of goods across the esoko The traders working across the esoko system aresystem can only be organised privately through two operating currently in an unfamiliar environment inindividuals agreeing off the system to exchange that they are less comfortable about making dealsgoods with one another. This requires the full or operating. Through the inclusion of nationallyexpression of trust to be centred in the verbal recognised members of trading partnerships andagreement that they make with one another. their relationship to buyers and sellers alike esoko may begin to produce a more simulated version ofBy producing a system that used the GPRTU as the existing system. This would hopefully encouragethe trusted party both in terms of handling the greater patronage.money and assuring the crop esoko may produce anenvironment of trust.The production of a waybill would ensure that thegoods were those picked; a driver is liable if thoseinside the car don’t match the assigned waybill.The driver is also unlikely to agree to the loading ofrotted fruit, the driver is also liable for the state ofthe goods.If the GPRTU handled the money then they mayalso be relied upon to deliver it as records exist oftheir receiving the money and drivers are requiredto carry recognition of the receiving of it on thewaybill.3.2 Value of the siteThe fact that esoko does not have any clear way ofrecognising whether people have traded across itssystem means that it is unable to properly registerits true worth.If esoko is ever going to operate as a successfultrading platform it will have to be able to quantifythe sales that it hosts in order to attain to the scopeof its activities.A moderated sales system that includes a thirdparty guarantor also provides protection.
  7. 7. 4.0 Findings4.1 Driver’s resources The money that the driver makes from these small trips, as opposed to the long journeys, is exclusivelyThe drivers that I met where on the whole for the driver and his mate/s.reasonably literate with most speaking some This is basically the predominant income that thelevel of English as is common with the Ghanaian driver earns, the amount paid to him by the ownerpopulation as a whole. Although many of those that barely covers his food bill.drive the northern passages hail from communitiesin which English is scarce, often only spoken by few These conditions mean that if a driver reachesof the members, the need to speak languages from somewhere that he feels he is unlikely to find a loadother parts of the country means the drivers have a they will often quickly turn back if they can affordfairly good grasp of language. the fuel to do so. Fuel is expensive when a car is fully loaded, for instance the trip from Kumasi toAll drivers use mobile phones, they are the Bolga costs approximately 600 cedi.predominant way in that they are able to contact When the car is empty it uses considerably less andone another and their station office. If you visit drivers will often argue that it is better that theystations across the country you will find the walls return back to their home station than to take oncovered in phone numbers, some of the station board the costs of trying to wait to find work at themasters also keep more detailed written details on branch where they will be forced to pay the costs ofthe drivers however only those that are regularly living.stationed in that particular area. The small trips that they make are also important to this decision, as they will be the main source ofDrivers tend to choose a base-station that is income for the driver.situated close to their house and family. For a driverto stay away from their home basically means they 4.3 Paymentwill need to sleep in the car or underneath it unlessthey have someone that they can stay with in the Drivers receive the money for the load either fromtown. They will also need to pay for food, this costs the buyer or through the owner of the car if theabout two cedi per day, and is an important reason buyer of the goods is not travelling with the car orfor a driver to choose to leave a place rather than meeting it.wait for a load. The drivers need to carry sizable amounts of money as they will need to buy fuel besides that money4.2 Drivers earnings they have collected for the load. Before the car leaves the station they will pay 10% of the fee toDrivers when asked about their earnings on the the cargo station as dues for the load they havewhole gave answers ranging between 30 and 60 organised.cedi, this is obviously a very low amount and given They then go to the nearest fuelling station and buythe cost that some reported spending on rent and the fuel for the journey. Each driver requires a stackfood seems impossible. of small bills for the payment of bribes, as no driverIt did later transpire that there is a good reason for wants to be caught out having to ask a policemanthis as they are actually earning more. If they stay for change.in an area where they know people and are knownto people then they will invariably be asked to drivesome small loads around the town making shorttrips to nearby villages and other such small trips.
  8. 8. The payment for the transportation may have been vehicle is loaded, a busy station may delay for apaid upfront or may be on credit, it seems to be the few hours and this causes problems for drivers incase that usually most mixed loads are in part paid terms of time taken as well as the number of policefor and in part not, barriers they can expect to face. These costs are considerable and although they4.4 Costs come out of the pocket of the owner technically they will also impact upon the amount of money aDrivers complain of the level of work that they driver is likely to be able to take home.currently receive, it seems most are able to getbetween 2 and 4 journeys in a month, when they 4.6 Banditryreceive the money for this it works out as beingbetween 30 and 60 cedi. Driving at night requires that the driver is wary ofThe bulk of the profit goes to the owner for almost bandits that operate particularly near Kintampoall of the money per journey is given and from that. and Techiman where the long stretches of sparsely populated bush make it easier to rob withoutIf a truck travels from Tamale carrying bags of witnesses.maize bag to carry to Bolga then the load costs The road barriers have been effective in stopping1500 cedi. The fuel costs about 600 cedi and the the frequency of these attacks however theystation takes 150 cedi. The duties on the road will nevertheless seem to happen nightly.cost as much as 150 cedi and the car will most likely A driver’s defence against this happening is eitherreturn empty costing 300 cedi the owner will take to avoid the remote roads at times when they arethe remaining 300 providing perhaps 40 cedi of it to known to be dangerous or to phone other drivers orthe driver with something small for the mate/s. the station master for information.In this way the owners of the vehicles do They are not unduly worried about the thieves, asfantastically better than the drivers. The drivers they prefer to attack buses, as the money is likely toadmit this quite freely and seem to regard the be better.situation as given.They make their money from the little trips and in 4.7 Maintenance and Breakdownssome cases this is explicitly the agreement betweenthe driver and owner. The possibility of breakdown is very evident and problems with the wheels also. They do not4.5 Stations and waybills however seem to cause the drivers serious problems as the drivers have proved in all occurrences I’veDrivers are hired mostly through the cargo stations witnessed to be able to fix the problem within a sorthowever there are some that choose to pick a spot period.away from the station and look for loads from these The common complaints have been wheel problems,places. brakes, lights and clutch issues. I have been relatedThe price of hiring drivers like this is less however stories where the vehicle has had to stop for a nightthere are also few guarantees that the loads will because the job was beyond the skill of the driverarrive. Stories of whole loads being stolen in this however only on two occasions has this been theway are not uncommon. case. Where it is so a mechanic is sought from a nearby place.Organised through the station the drivers must If the car does not have the parts to make the fix onwait for the vehicle to be loaded and the waybills the side of the road they may also have to await theprepared. The waybill is vital as they will be asked arrival of another truck. It seems there are very fewto produce their papers at numerious points during circumstances in that a driver may be unwilling tothe trip. To move without the bill is likely to incur give help to another driver, in circumstances wherethe need to pay large sums to the police and the drivers did not know the other drivers, wherecustoms officials. the other drivers were even coming from BurkinaThe waybill is produced by the stations and basically the driver was still willing to lend the other driversdetails the goods and destinations held within the their spare wheel on the understanding that theytruck. Although it is also the case that these things would pick it up again when they got to Kumasi.may sometimes be added to by the driver looking They did however return to the vehicle mutteringfor a little extra in his pocket. If this happens it is about drivers that could be silly enough to considerlikely he will either have to pick the extra along the such a journey without a wheel.way or to bribe the loaders. In other cases other vehicles have offered help mechanically and with supplies also. This unofficial service seems to keep most of the vehicles on theThe waybills are not always ready at the time the road.
  9. 9. The oil is also changed approximately once every as bandits.three trips in order that the car is in good shape. They will negotiate on behalf of the drivers toMaintenance is supposed to be carried out by the keep the cost of bribes in check, to do this stationowner and is considered a fairly costly aspect of masters will pass information concerning the costslooking after the vehicle, if an owner is bad then of bribes up the chain until the national executivethey will fail to properly maintain the vehicle, will take its complaint to the MTTU (although itequally if the driver is no good they will drive the must be diplomatic).car in such a way as to damage it. The costs of transportation are decided by the stationmaster, this may be done in the sense of4.8 Transport unions negotiation or by deciding upon fixed costs that they apply across the board. Even if this is the caseThe main transport unions of Ghana are the GPRTU, there is generally some negotiation as the loads areGNHTA and the GNTCA, of these three the GPRTU very rarely exactly what is prescribed by the pricingis far larger with the GNCTA having little influence list.outside Accra.Despite their separate states they all work with one 4.9 Trading Associationsanother harmoniously at least so it seems. Trading or buyers associations are also responsibleThe stations all have their particular conditions for the organisation of goods; they do this throughand idiosyncrasies but all are bound to an overall organising the deals between the buyers and sellersconstitution that directs they’re basic working through negotiation on their behalf. They are alsopractices in so far as the information they must involved with the aggregation of goods from theprovide drivers and the documentation of loads. villages. This they do through the information they areThe station’s executive is in most circumstances passed from agents that they have within ruralelected, in cases where this wasn’t explicitly said it markets and those that travel to the farm gate.seemed that the executive existed by consent in theface of superior ability or perhaps lack of challenge. Working within an association may be a tightlyThe need to document the members includes the controlled system with price controls and punitivedocumentation of vehicle owners, drivers and measures for those that seek to avoid them such asmates, addresses, mobile numbers and vehicle the Techiman and Kumasi markets. They may alsonumbers. be associations that are only loosely organised andThe waybill will document the items the truck is operate no particular pricing control over the goodscarrying the destination of the items, the person as with parts of the Tamale, Takoradi and Techimanfor whom the items are due. Mobile numbers are markets.included if possible and records of whether paymenthas been received for the goods is always recorded The trading associations and even individual buyerswith a clear distinction made in the colour of the are often involved with the provision of credit to theink. farmers and even smaller traders down the chain from themselves. This on the one hand providesThe unions will actively seek arrest of drivers that security to the farmers in times of need but for thecause problems for the union; some have gone so association also allows them to better calculate thefar as to advertise phone numbers for the reporting quantity of goods they are likely to have in harvestof bad behaviour. seasons.In some cases the stations will operate as a trading The provision of credit also allows the buyers to putpartner putting the producers and buyers together pressure on the farmers to sell at times when theand working to aggregate loads to produce the market price is low then guaranteeing more profitrequired number of goods. Unions may also vet to the buyers that can then store the goods and selldrivers for their local knowledge to ensure that they them at a higher price.are fully aware of their destinations. In some circumstances it seems as though the trading association is also largely in control of theUnions provide the SOS service where possible; local cargo station, they will be responsible forsending trucks after vehicles that have suffered putting loads together and then organising thea breakdown from that it cannot be repaired. manner of how the truck is supposed to move. InThis works to a differing amount depending on situations such as the Kumasi Tomato queen andthe station. They will however be responsible for associated tomato union they were responsiblepursuing the driver should they fail to make the for deciding exactly how many trucks would bedelivery on time, as will they for alerting the driver responsible for servicing each of the large southernto poor road conditions and possible dangers such markets.
  10. 10. This level of control extended all the way into the 4.11 Police, customs, tolls and weigh stations.destinations of the trucks and then the final pricesthat the tomatoes could be expected to fetch at The police and other organs of law enforcement aretheir final destination. Associations of the Nigerian one of the most often stated problems faced by theonion men are similar to this in the extent of its drivers. This is not necessarily representative of thecontrol over the market. actuality of what effects the work but it is certainly that most felt by the drivers.Most of the associations met were reasonably openand many had happily collaborated with MOFA in The numerous stops and tolls requested of thedetermining their trading patterns, there were of drivers can cost sometimes half as much as thecourse those associations that viewed any attempt fuel may and is a process that most drivers wereto engage in investigation of their activities with extremely annoyed by.suspicion or outright hostility such as the mob in The winking lights seen on approaching a barrierTechiman. will send the driver to his dashboard to grab the smallest sum he thinks he might be able to pay to4.10 Trading transporting associations. the police. He will draw on lines of kinship, plead poverty and even accuse a previous barrier ofI have met relatively few transportation collecting more than was considered ‘fair’.associations of this nature, the GNTTTA remains oneof the few explicit associations of this type, perhaps On a car moving between Kumasi and Bolga the caralso including the Nigerian onion farmers. I rode was stopped around 30 times within the 19 hour journey.What is clear although is that despite the separate Whether the papers are correct or not the finenature of the associations in actuality there are must be paid, whether to the customs official ortraders that are a part of the GPRTU and there are the police. The most farcical arrangement is ofmembers of the GPRTU working in trading roles the weigh stations that are infrequently scatteredso there can be no clear distinction made between alongside the road. These are to enforce the correctthe activities only that given the varying nature weight and loading of the truck. They are supposedof relationship between the parties there are to check that the driver has not packed too much.seemingly elastic boundaries that exist between thescope of an associations remit. Unfortunately the driver has few ways of knowing the weight of his truck, unless he is able to weighThere are the powerful members within most the items individually there are no truck scalesmarkets and these seem also to be whomever has except at the weigh station.become most successful at organising the trading If he gets his car weighed and is over weight thenand so acquiring more of a cut for themselves he may expect to pay around 300 cedi, the bribe inadding to the wealth and influence of their the south is 40 and in the north 20. The system thenorganisation. One might point to the GNTTTA and becomes a strange gamble with a driver believingits supply of ‘leaders’ to the traders travelling in the his load to be particularly light perhaps risking it, intrucks, these leaders speak the Burkina language most cases however the driver pays.and play a central role in the negotiation of pricesparticularly because of their personal relationship to The quantity of costs that are finally past onto thethe producers and the ability to patronise one over consumer in the cases of bribery are questionable, itanother. would seem that drivers and owners adjust prices to account for most expenditure and the amounts thatI would suggest that the nature of how the owners receive is always told once the bribes areassociations conduct business is largely the cause deducted and seem consistent.of this elastic and changing relationship. As most of If this is the case then it would certainly seem thatthe calculations that allow business to commence ultimately it is those consumers that will have toare taken inside of the head/s of whomever is shoulder the price.in charge then the faculties of its staff mostlydetermine the ability of an organisation.This produces the mosaic of differing patternsof relationship between groups. Each has itsunique bargaining point however the ability of theprotagonist to negotiate, bringing informationalresources to bolster material, becomes the onlydeterminate of the momentary fixing of influence.
  11. 11. 5.0 Transport research – esokoWhat follows are summarised versions of interviewsmade over the period of the study. it does notinclude informal interviews nor observations made,these have contributed to the overall conclusionsand are then part of the final analysis.Contents of the study5.1 Meeting with chairman of the Ghana Road 5.14 Tomato Queen, Kumasi Central MarketTransport Coordinating Council. 5.15 Peanut seller, Kumasi Central Market5.2 Meeting with the executive of the GhanaNational Cargo Transporters Association 5.16 Meeting with Esoko/MOFA enumerator, Kumasi Central Market5.3 Meeting with the permanent sectary of theAchimota charcoal yard 5.17 Corn wholesaler, Kumasi Central Market5.4 Charcoal Truck between Accra (Kanishie) – 5.18 Provisions Truck between Kumasi – BolgatangaTakoradi 5.19 Meeting with the regional GPRTU branch5.5 Yam buyers at the truck stop in Takoradi central Bolgatangamarket 5.20 Meeting with the GPRTU Branch, Bolga Market5.6 Yam Queen, Takoradi central market Cargo Station5.7 Tomato Queen, Takoradi central market 5.21 Meeting with the GPRTU Branch Navrongo5.8 Deputy Onion Queen, Takoradi central market 5.22 Meeting with the Yam Sellers Association Abobo Market, Tamale5.9 Meeting with the Ghana Private RoadTransporters association – Sekondi/Takoradi, Cargo 5.23 Meeting with Small cargo station (Kia Station)Branch Newtin Kolloh Abobo Market, Tamale5.10 Meeting with the Ghana Haulage Transport 5.24 Meeting with Tamale GPRTU Heavy TrucksDrivers Union, Takoradi/Sekondi, based at Port. Branch5.11 Tyre Truck between Takoradi – Kumasi 5.25 Meeting with MOFA/esoko re-numerator, Techiman Market.5.12 Meeting with the GPRTU regional branchKumasi 5.26 Meeting with Techiman cargo station number 1.5.13 Meeting with the GPRTU Cargo Station atBanda, Race Course 5.27 Meeting with the Techiman Maize Buyers Association
  12. 12. They are developing the new 2010 transport act. One of the areas they will be revising is the penalty20/04/2010 for driving offences that are being reduced by up5.1 Meeting with chairman of the Ghana Road to 90%. They have also been organising seminarsTransport Coordinating Council. about road safety and driving courses. They want toMatthew Hayford – Chairman introduce educational classes rather than tougher sentences for offences on the road.22 organisations make it up. These include unions,associations and cooperatives.The council is made up of various representatives 21/04/2010from a number of organisations who are sent by 5.2 Meeting with the executive of the Ghanathere associations. National Cargo Transporters AssociationIndividuals form societies or groups that are then President of the association: Abdul Mohamedorganised into unions at the district and regionallevels, the regional level then forms the association In 2003 they decided to set up their own union asthat then forms a part of the council. This form is the GPRTU is also concerned with taxi’s and busesuniform in all types of work. and so they thought that some of their concernsThe government goes to the council when they were being overlooked. Up to now they haveneed to engage the transporters. Membership is approximately 2 million members including cargovoluntary however the majority belong to one of stations, drivers, owners and other affiliates likethe associations or another. They then may receive trading groups and buyers who use the cars totraining and negotiation on their part concerning travel to the north.rights and conditions. The council is funded from The cargo stations that are under the GNCTAwithin and this is collected through dues paid by are able to run their own bylaws so long as thethe members. The government does not provide central executive grants approval. They will largelyany money. They are far less well off than the determine whether the bylaws are reasonable basedunions, which is where the money tends to stop. on their own experience of the business. AlthoughMembership of the association is fairly stable but a cargo station can seek to provide justification forfinancial constraints mean they are unable to offer a bylaw should it fail to be passed by the executive.the sort of services that they would wish. The The executive itself provides a common frameworkgovernment if they were considering a fuel price or constitution to all stations concerning the basicchange they would need to come to negotiate. operation of their business. This is given in theThe council based upon fuel consumption fixes all form of a charter once a cargo station has managedthe prices for trotros, combined taxi’s and buses. to form itself around the central requirements ofThese fares have to keep the passengers, drivers, operation. These are largely concerning a staff andowners and government all happy this is not easy. premise from which to operate.They organise a wide range of issues over various Currently the executive is exploring how it couldissues such as tonnage and welfare the difficulty set up a central warehouse that would allow themof organising over tonnage was partly caused to sell goods directly to the drivers whereas theyby individual operators working outside of the now currently buy them from many of the smallerframework in order to secure business. He also shops. Besides this they act as a mouthpiece for thethinks there are more trucks than there are loads. drivers and try to ensure that they get a fair dealFormally there were few cars on the road so it was from central government. They are also there toa safe bet. The owners tend to organise that the work on their behalf and to try and deal with somedrivers should bring a particular amount of money of their problems. One such example is that of theevery day. This is decided between the owners and axle weight issue that currently does not makethe drivers. For a cargo truck there is uncertainty provision for the larger 6 wheeler articulator trucksover the amounts that they will make. This is not so that currently have to carry much the same weightfor the drivers of taxi’s and trotros. as the cargo double axles, this they say obviouslyTomatoes have there good and bad side, you’d need does not take account of their much larger loadto bring it within 24 hours and this can bring about bearing abilities. Over a concern such as this theyserious problems with tiredness and unreliable will basically have to inform the government of theirtrucks. Also the goods need often to be loaded wish to hold a meeting and then from this they willfrom maybe six areas. Its not industrial farming so proceed to negotiate the terms of the deal.people need to go to the small areas. The trucks The general pattern of truck driving that is seenthat go up country often return with no load. Truck around the country is that of the movement of non-ownership is generally concentrated in the south perishable goods for the south to the north in returnwhile the drivers tend to be from the north. The for foodstuffs such as cereals, yams, tomatoes tocarriers of foodstuff tend to be cargo trucks as they name but a few. These are then conveyed to theneed to be able to go into the smaller villages. south via Techiman and Kumasi where they are
  13. 13. often traded to buyers from the south. Being form have money to buy and that this is the case for thethe south they tend not to be able to go to the small whole system, he thinks that this has been the casevillages where the goods are cheaper, instead they for perhaps the last ten years. When he reachestend to congregate in the more urban markets. Takoradi he will wait between 2 and 3 weeks for a load. This causes serious problems for him given that his rent is around 20 cedi a month. When he is22/04/2010 in Accra he will have to stay in his truck he will eat 25.3 Meeting with the permanent sectary of the cedi a day and if he eats more then he is in trouble.Achimota charcoal yard He will probably only make 30 cedi if he makes two trips in the month. If he can do more then he mayCharcoal selling at approximately 10 cedi per bag make up to 50 cedi. As he puts it they are suffering.in the station goes for between 3.5 and 7 in the The prices offered to the farmers is too low andvillage, the main buyers of the charcoal are the causes them to hold off from selling to the buyerswomen who operate in the markets. He believes and this generally means that the produce rots inthat it is they who are making the most money the end. Once he arrives with a load then he willin the chain, they sell the charcoal in small piles phone the buyers to say that he has reached theas well as wholesale and this brings in the most destination and that they should come to offloadmoney. They have also provided loads to Europeans the car. He will also take jobs from people thatfor sale on markets overseas. The ladies can buy phone him specifically to take the load somewhere,anywhere between 3 and 100 sacks. Prices are as to where he goes he has no qualms, he will goaffected by the season as well as the fuel price that anywhere. If this leaves him somewhere that seemsthe drivers have to pay. The trucks will drive out to that there will be no work then he will come backthe village but if the road is bad then they will just empty. He simply decides this based on how it lookspark nearby. The drivers are contracted by someone like things are going. This situation happens oftenthat phones them or comes in person to the truck and is a very bad situation. It happened to himstation. The major producing areas are those of in the last two weeks where he was stranded inKintampo, Attabugu and the Affram Plains. The Kumasi. He says that if you are going to the northdrivers cannot visit the small villages that produce or to somewhere that is far away then you havesome of the charcoal due to the state of the road. to consider the fact that you will not get a load to come back with so you need to charge enough to cover the expenses. The load going then will always26/04/2010 be more expensive because of returning empty. He5.4 Charcoal Truck between Accra (Kanishie) – will go to visit the cargo station in the north butTakoradi often gets there to find that there are other trucksDriver: Sergeant Doe waiting to pick loads, in this case he doesn’t wait he just goes back. The price you can charge on the loadI explain that we’re trying to develop a system to depends on how big the truck is but in the end thelink them up to buyers and sellers, and he says amount given to the driver is always too low. Theto me that they don’t buy and they don’t sell. The amount paid for the load is 350, the amount to thepeople will call him and then he will consult about GPRTU 35 cedi plus 10 cedi chop money, 250 will gothe price. When the price is good for him then he to the car owner, 50 cedi for fuel on the road he willwill take it. Otherwise he will go to the station have to pay the police on about 5 or 6 occasions,where he is likely to find a load. He never drives despite this he still says that he will make betweenaround looking for loads, he will visit the cargo 20 and 30 cedi. The maths obviously doesn’t add up.station and some times people will just turn up He says that if he gets a job through a private phonewith a truck and say that they need a driver. When call then he will take the cargo station’s 10% andthe truck reaches the destination then they will put it in his pocket, if he’s been waiting in the cargoget paid. He doesn’t get enough work to do at the station then he will give them something small formoment the last two weeks he was waiting for a sitting there this amount can be between 10 or 20job. The truck he’s driving at the moment he has cedi.been driving for 4 years. There are plenty of driverswho need more work also. In the past he usedto only wait 3 days for a job and in a week could 27/04/2010sometimes drive between 4 and 6 times in a week. 5.5 Yam buyers at the truck stop in Takoradi centralHe says that during those times he would have to marketturn jobs down because they would ask them toturn around and drive straight back. He blames the The truck arrives at 7 to begin offloading, this can’tcurrent state of affairs on the economic decline begin until the person that has brought the yamand the quantity of taxes that people need to pay arrives, the yam is loaded into the front of the truckon the goods. He thinks that the traders don’t and so it needs to come out before the major stock
  14. 14. of charcoal can be reached. The yam buyers are in the south are aware of the load in the north theyalready waiting for the load although it seems they will still not travel unless they have a load to takeare still holding yam from the other day that they north. The queen would like the government tohave failed to sell, although they say they might be provide the trucks. In the past they did this and itable to move a whole cartload in a day. They add meant that the trucks would always be moving,that they may also fail to sell a single yam in a day.They say that the yams if they are good can last fora very long time, one says that this can be as long 27/04/2010as a year but I think that he means if it is left in the 5.7 Tomato Queen, Takoradi central marketsoil. They certainly agree that they can do at least Queen: Sarah Kofia week if they are in good condition. When the ladyarrives a little later they get around to offloading Sarah used to buy the tomatoes from Burkina andthe car. Although one loader comes forward it still does when the season is right she complainsseems it is not his car and another after a slight the people in Navrongo now tax the trucks thataltercation comes forward to take the load. The yam move through their town carrying tomatoes (therequeen is not around but one of her advisors is there had been riots about the trucks passing through theto see the offloading. tomato growing region). This taxation has caused the price of tomatoes to rise and she blames it for the large amount of waste that the trade produces.27/04/2010 The tomato growing season runs between May5.6 Yam Queen, Takoradi central market and December in Ghana but despite this she wouldQueen: Efua Adjama, Elder: Mercy Ajei prefer to buy from Burkina where the tomatoes are of a variety that keeps better and they are generallyWhen they go to the north to bring the yam it is the cheaper. Formally they would pay the driver perwomen that go with the trucks. There is sometimes box however due to the frequency with whichsome small spoilage and some of the yam is kept they are unable to fill the whole truck the driversbadly so it spoils. She points to a great pile of yam have changed to charging for the whole truck. Thethat seems to be growing trees, this has spoiled and difficulty with filling the truck is due to the farmingalthough they can chop the growth off the yam will communities being spread far and wide, they arenot be easy to sell. It was because they were unable also on such a scale that you cannot go to oneto get the car early that this has happened. Because community and expect to fill the whole truck. Thisthey tend to travel by public bus they are not at the is also because they are not always aware that thefarm site with the yam instead they need to gather truck will be coming so they are not ready. Earlythe yam together and then find transport this can rains can easily cause the tomatoes to fail to ripen.be difficult in the north particularly to bring it as far Because of the price people do not buy tomato likesouth as Takoradi. She says that sometimes they they used to. The canned paste has become morehave to beg the transporters to come and then even popular and many people choose to buy this ratherthen they can charge pretty much whatever they than the fresh produce, at the moment they are alsowant. Apparently the drivers blame the high cost short of cash so buy little. The price in Burkina atof fuel, mechanics and spares. The cars far prefer the moment is around 40,000 cfa per box.to go to Accra so they often take the yam to Accrawhere it is traded and then sold again to the womencreating a high cost by the time it reaches Takoradi. 27/04/2010The cars that carry goods to the north from Takoradi 5.8 Deputy Onion Queen, Takoradi central markettend to be articulators so they are unable to visit Deputy: Mary Nuamahthe villages where the yams are found, because ofthis they have to wait for a cargo truck that does Mary buys two types of onion, being the Nigeriannot travel frequently from Takoradi to such places. onion that is either yellow or red and then theWhile they had used to take the transportation on Bwaku red onion. The Nigerian onion is the best andcredit from the north the drivers do not much like can be used for all purposes the Bwaku red onionthis practice as they do not know the ladies from is generally used for stews and shito. The Nigerianthe south and don’t trust that they will get back the onions are sold by men from Niger who live at themoney they initially spend. They don’t use specific market here in Ghana. The only other form of supplydrivers due to the fact that they equally don’t is from those small producers that bring the onionsknow them and so just take the first available car. to sell at the market from their farms. She says thatSometimes they have waited for a full month to the reason that the Nigerian men have a hold overtake a car back to the south. At this point they are the market is due to the distance involved in thewiling to pay almost anything because they’ve not journey and the fact that there are few Ghanaiansbeen back for a month and the longer they stay the who know Niger to be able to visit the farms. Themore money they wind up spending. If the trucks Nigerians will only sell wholesale to other Nigerians
  15. 15. and in this way they continue to dominate the interior so Takoradi has a reasonably high pricemarket. The onions that they produce can be kept when compared with other places. Those womenfor nearly a year and she has storerooms to this that say the transportation price is the reason foreffect. Even kept in the open air they last well. the high transportation prices is the reason areThe Nigerians decide the price and they will sell lying. They say that they are going to buy for cheap,to anyone that wants to buy the onions but only however they do agree that the price of bringingat the rates they offer to outsiders of the Nigerian things from the north is high. They say that thiscircle. Currently the old queen has died so there is is only the case for the perishable goods, for non-disorder among the onion sellers, she says that they perishables this is not the case. The price changesneed to elect a new queen soon as they are getting when they increase the price of fuel, the prices arebad prices from the Nigerian men. She says that if still negotiable. The work has reduced and theythey are able to mobilise themselves then they will blame the world crash, people have also jumpedbe able to get better prices from the traders. As it into the business looking for money. Besides thisis she takes a car to Accra once every two weeks the storeowners have brought their own cars andso that she can buy from the markets there. A sack now pick their own things. The union wants tothat costs 80 cedi at Accra sells for 1.3 when they challenge the company so that they are able to takeget it to Takoradi so she buys a trotro worth and away some of the companies business. This theythen brings them. She is one of the few that can hope would provide the drivers with more work toafford to do this however and although she used to do. The company’s price is already higher than theirgo in on the trip with some of the other traders she own. They are taking away quite a bit of the work.now only does it for herself. The other traders were They argue that the unions serve the governmentnot consistent in their paying her back so she had to more than the companies who do not have the samestop. relationship with the government. They have most of the Coco transportation this is also because many of those who sit on the Coco Board have interests28/04/2010 in the trucking companies. They only come to the5.9 Meeting with the Ghana Private Road unions when they are short of trucks. To increaseTransporters association – Sekondi/Takoradi, Cargo the amount of work will depend on the governmentBranch Newtin Kolloh they need to reduce the prices, (Taxes?). If theyChairman: David Apau need tomatoes then it is hard to find in Takoradi because of the distance and the length of time itThe Chairman of the cargo branch says that in the takes to load the car. It takes three days to loadwestern region this is the largest cargo station. the truck because the tomatoes are not in theThey used to be separate from the haulage same place; it takes a while of driving around inunion but after some time they decided that the the bush to get hold of the amount you need to fillchallenge between them was causing problems. a car. The yam, cassava, mangos and watermelonsThe two unions merged and made the Haulage are those that are far away. Although the GNCTAunion chairman the head and them him the deputy. are technically a separate union they have anThen they made his deputy the 1st trustee and agreement that they will work collaboratively tothen the Haulage’s vice the 2nd trustee. Now they ensure that if a car is spoilt then they will sendthen wanted to operate at the port so made an another car to collect the goods depending onapplication to the port authority that provided whether its closer to one station or another. Mostthem a license. Now then all the cargo must pass of the jobs they get are from people who havethrough them unless they are a company, as they heard about them through the FM stations and alsohave no power over the company cars. There are by coming to the station. The porters that workas many as 40 company cars that they use, while in the major offloading stations are a source ofthe union truck number 141 trucks. There are 10 plenty of the information about where loads can beor 20 companies that are registered with the port. found. The station agents fix the price and this wasOf the dues that are collected by the unions 1 third something that was agreed by the drivers and thegoes to each of the bodies, the two separate unions station. Some goods also have a fixed price. If theand then the conjoined. He will spend perhaps two goods are not one for that they have a price that’shours at the cargo station before going to the joint fixed then they will negotiate with the customer.office at the port. The port is basically the main The union here has 45 members who will vote forprovider of jobs in the area. Fish comes from the the chairmen, vice chairmen and other executiveTema fishing harbour rather than in Takoradi. There members; they are then installed for 4 years beforeare a couple of factories that produce plywood and they can be voted out. They help their members inthese products go to Mali and other surrounding weddings, deaths and sickness. At the moment thecountries. There is also coconut that they take to work is not so good but in the past they used toNigeria. They will also bring Kola nut and Coco to provide Christmas bonuses, they could do more butthe port. Food needs to generally come from the at the moment there is not enough work. In terms
  16. 16. of the loads they are responsible to check that the drivers are given a slip of paper that details theload is as they have said it would be, as such they job while the union keeps a receipt of the job.need to write out a list of the goods carried so they The registration process requires that the driversare aware of every item that has gone into the and owners provide information concerning theirtruck. If you were to bring a load of rotten tomatoes address, their phone numbers, legal documentsthen they would take the tomatoes, it is the concern and other information. In this way the union canof the person that brings the thing. However they be responsible for any goods they transport. Theyhave to arrive in the length of time that they have are in fairly regular contact with the other stationssaid they will take. If they have said that they will around the country, they have meetings during thearrive in one day then they will have to arrive in year but besides that the chairmen have some morethat time or they will face financial problems. The regular contact with the stations that are nearby.owner that travels with the vehicle is generally the The private trucking companies are not very seriousone that comes with the truck so they check the competition however they do transport most ofnature of the goods. ‘419’ is the name given to fraud the goods needed by the Ghana Coco Board. Theyand also that people will sometimes phone them to still use boards in the offices to organise the orderask them to come and then they will not actually in that the drivers will leave. The porters in theneed anyone to come, they do it just to spoil the port will alert the union to the jobs, as they willbusiness. The chairman then describes going to the be made aware of a container being opened. Andstation and picking a guy who goes to a factory then then send word to the union to ready a truck. Theysays his money is short and that he will add the are also well organised and have their own unionsmoney to the transport money, he then goes into and headmen that organise them and liaise withthe factory and disappears. the trucking unions. The port is basically the only gig in town although there are some loads that are organised by traders at the market the vast majority28/04/2010 of work is at the town. He denies the words of5.10 Meeting with the Ghana Haulage Transport the market women that suggested that they wereDrivers Union, Takoradi/Sekondi, based at Port. charging too much to head to the north and saysChairman: Godfrey Offeh that they are always cheating. He says that the fuel costs are the most serious problem faced by theThey are in the business of goods and services; drivers.this mostly includes the exporting goods viaarticulator to the hinterland. There are very fewnon-perishable goods that they take North however 28/04/2010they will transport a few perishables such as 5.11 Tyre Truck between Takoradi – Kumasimango’s and coco. They will go as far as Burkina Driver: AkobamFaso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. The articulator union(GHTDU) was totally separate from the GPRTU The time of the trucks departure is never madeprior 2003 when the two unions merged. He says very clear, I sit for four or five hours and eventuallyof the GNCTA; they wanted to have their own union there is a sudden phone call and I head to the port.so the others said ok, they don’t run competing The truck has been loaded with second-hand tyresstations and where they have their own stations from Germany to the point where it is flagrantlythe other organisation respects their territory. The overweight the driver complains that the load is toomerging of the two local unions being the haulage much for his engine but he and the owners of theand cargo workers happened because the two tyres are in no doubt that they will proceed anyway.chairmen could see that they were in competition The car is leaving Takoradi at about 5pm, the unionwith one another and wanted to stop the conflict. men had been waiting to see if they would clear theNow the two chairmen have an office at their port today they tell me that you can never be surerespective stations where they spend the morning, if they will actually make it out from the customscome the afternoon they go to a shared office at and the port authority. The two owners of thethe port where they organise most of the loads. tyres are riding in the car also making it five of usThe porters also have merged from supplying the with the mate. The journey between Takoradi andseparate unions to working for the two. These Kumasi requires driving back along the coast as farmergers are agreed through the various elders or as Cape Coast before the truck is able to turn northexecutive bodies of the organisations. The port and begin to make headway in the right direction.has recently provided the unions with the right to Along this route there are some police to bribeallocate the vehicles for the port, previously there but only two barriers that offer little hindrance.were trucks milling around and going wherever The driver tells me that he drives an articulatorbut nowadays they are only coming into the port because they are better than the small trucks. Heonce they’ve been given a particular job. This is says you can make more money and faster. Thisrecorded by a computer but also on paper, the is only done I believe through operating the port
  17. 17. however as he admits that he doubts that he will be found they are also collecting things from thefind a load in Kumasi. The articulators cannot move Northern part of the Ashanti region. As an industrialto the smaller stations for the cargo and to fill an relations officer he has close dealing with the food,articulator requires a lot of goods that are not easily corn, tomato sellers as well as the wood-cutters.found outside of agricultural products that tend to They also deal closely with the central marketbe coming from the north. He will most likely return associations that buy much of the food items.to Takoradi empty to begin looking for anotherload form the port. The tyre owners say that thereare many such goods and container trucks moving 29/04/2010to Kumasi because they don’t have a port there so 5.13 Meeting with the GPRTU Cargo Station atcannot find easy access to second hand goods. The Banda, Race Coursejourney is broken around Cape Coast and from there Station Master: Ableit is a straight drive to Kumasi, there are some quiteserious hills on the route and the truck struggles This station is only for cargo; all of the membersand makes unpleasant noises as we slowly grace of his station will come to him for loads it is onlythe tops to then have to apply the break in hefty around Christmas that they are able to find privateterms to avoid a mad scramble to the bottom. They loads. If they are registered at this station theytell me that although bandits where known to may still get loads from other stations however thisoperate in the hills around here that has not been will only be if the other station is short of trucks.the case for some time. When we close in on Kumasi Most of the year the trucks that leave here to theit turns out the truck will be delivering straight North will come back empty, the weight they carryto the house if the tyre owner. This makes for a depends of the load and the truck they are using.strange passage deep into suburbia at around 3am This affects the cost of fuel as well, to drive to Bolgain our enormous articulated lorry. Upon arriving the empty will cost about 300 cedi for the fuel. To do itdriver strips naked in the road and washes from a with a load will cost 1500 cedi to Bolga of this 150bucket of water and so me and the mate join him cedi goes to the station, fuel costs around 600 tobefore the mate and I retire to the cab while the 700 cedi when the truck is loaded. In the end thedriver sleeps under the truck on his comfy chair driver is in possession of approximately 300 cedi ifwith mosquito net. We on the other hand spend the they have had to return empty. Every three trips itnight attacking tiny high-pitched drones that hover is necessary to change the oil or risk causing morearound our ears. The next morning some people serious problems. Maintenance besides this mayhave arrived apparently known to the tyre owner also be required frequently. Able thinks that mostand the unpacking begins. Once finished the driver trucks are probably only making a couple of trips awill turn around and return. month. This station only runs between here and the North. Mostly this is to Bwaku, Wa or Bolgatanga. The difference between the weight of particular29/04/2010 goods is important to the fuel consumption the5.12 Meeting with the GPRTU regional branch weight of cattle is around 13 tonnes while yamKumasi will weigh in at around 35 tonnes. The months ofHead of Industrial Relations: Rev. Ellis Owusu- June, July and August are slow months but overallAnsah he thinks that the amount of work has increased over the last five years. They sometimes supply toThe branch is the regional head office of the GPRTU, the companies but only if they’ve run out of trucksin the region they have 20 branches and then that are not too regular, the station on the whole isaround 120 locals, every village in Ashanti region well run and they have access to plenty of trucks.has a station although all drivers will pass through They use waybills to record the journeys and to actKumasi. In Kumasi there are 5 or 6 lorry parks as insurance against police harassment. They usedthat cater for the trucks. They are not all for cargo radio adverts to promote their station and are alsohowever they are also dealing with the passenger advertising to store owners in Adom to get bettertrucks. In Kumasi some of the markets are Asaf business. They feel that there is very little pressureMarket, Race Course Station, Bantama Station, from the companies. In the case of the load beingNew Tafo, Morrow Market, Asamwasi. There are incorrect then he tells me that the owner shouldsome stations that only deal with passengers as pay two thirds of the cost of the good and then thesome equally only deal with perishable goods. The station will pay one third of the cost. He says thatconstitution that they have is for the whole union they have no way of enforcing this however so itthey have a national and regional executive, they is up to the good will of the owner or his wish tomeet at the Ashanti branch to have the regional retain good relations. Yam is the only good thatmeetings however the branches are all permitted to can be sold on credit the others must all be paidmake their own bylaws. The north of Race Course for up front. Saying this it is possible that over longis where perishables and non-perishables can periods of time (he suggests 5 years) they may
  18. 18. begin to trust each other and allow one another to open to outsiders. They use loans from the bank tobuy on credit. increase the amount they can buy however these tend to be difficult to get and can be expensive. A bag of peanut costs about 140 cedi and you can get30/04/2010 about 50 bags in a truck. She says that although5.14 Tomato Queen, Kumasi Central Market she buys from the middle women and men at theQueen: Serwa Badu small markets that this is because she does not know the farmers and is a stranger to them. SheThe market queens of the Kumasi area are able to says that they do not speak twii and so she cannotcome together very easily to discuss the nature communicate with them to buy the goods. She saysof their business. The union of buyers that she that she knows that the price from the farmers foris a part of includes the Accra markets, those of a bag is about 100 cedi and that rises to 120 in thethe Cape Coast, Takoradi and many of the smaller markets she buys from, finally becoming 140 cediplaces in the area. All of the tomato trucks are by the time she sells it but this is the way. She isassigned to the markets depending on the level however interested when shown the esoko systemof demand at the market. For Kumasi there are 8 and says that she wants to know how it works. Shetrucks assigned, for Accra 10, but most markets will says the price she pays is mostly affected by thehave only one, Takoradi has 5 as an example of a season rather than other factors.smaller city. This union meets perhaps four times ayear to discuss some of these issues however theytalk more regularly than that. They also meet with 30/04/2010the truck drivers to discuss the work. For every 5.16 Meeting with Esoko/MOFA enumerator, Kumasimarket the truck works continuously going back Central Marketand forth to bring the tomatoes. Who is necessarily Piianim Frimpongpaying for the tomatoes is not clear and it seemsas if different collections of the women may go at Piianim was working for MOFA before coming overany given trip. If 8 women in the Kumasi market to work for esoko also the information that heare to come together to bring a batch of tomatoes provides for MOFA is the same as what he does forthen two will travel with the truck while the others MOFA so it makes sense for him do provide it forstay at the market. All in all they have 40 trucks both. He says of prices that the rainy season hasmoving continuously to collect the tomatoes for been all over the place so they have had a difficultthe southern grouping of women. She herself is time keeping an eye on the prices. Last year thealso in charge of all the tomatoes in Kumasi. She early rains produced a bumper harvest that meanssays that the trucks must be fast as the tomatoes they are able to get a lot of foreign currency. Thespoil after little time. They don’t last beyond 5 – 6 various associations in the market (Kumasi Central)days after which time they are rotten. They know decide the prices, for onions the Nigerians at thethe smaller cars that go to the various places but Race Course sell at the lowest prices but thendetermine where each truck will go specifically they also control the onion business. At Centralindividually each time they go. The trucks work all Market they cost 100 cedi a bag at the Raceyear round only changing the places that they go. Course they cost 95 cedi. He says that the onionIf the drivers fail to deliver the tomatoes properly market is controlled not just by the Northernersthen they punish the drivers by taking them to the monopoly but that if a truck operates outside ofunion (that’s is the GPRTU). The market women are the monopoly then it will not reach the market “italerted by agents in the north who tell them when will fall over”. Tomatoes are being brought in bythe tomatoes are ready to be picked up. She decides the Akudama people who bring the tomatoes fromthe prices for all tomatoes in the Kumasi central Akobo, tomatoes are abundant at the momentmarket. however that does not mean there is any benefit for the farmers. A while ago the tomato queen was buying from whom ever would sell at the cheapest30/04/2010 price. This was causing a lot of impoverishment to5.15 Peanut seller, Kumasi Central Market the communities so they had a meeting with theAfia Yeboah queen’s and got them to agree to rotate between villages. Buying all the tomatoes from one placeShe will usually buy between 10 or 20 bags at a when they have their harvest and then moving on totime and this sort of quantity will mean that about the next place to do the same there. At least in this5 women will need to club together to fill the truck. way the farmers get a better deal for the tomatoes.Sometimes it is the case that people from the north The queens also provide money to the farmers tobring peanuts to them in which case they will buy grow the tomatoes in the first place that can be veryfrom them. They do not have the same system as useful to the farmers. He says that he’s being doingthe tomato sellers in the sense their market is more business with esoko but its not been the other way
  19. 19. around, he complains that he was not paid until the 30 times and the amount they pay in bribes is more25th of the previous month I being due on the first, than one hundred Ghana cedi. They refer to thethis he said did not happen under ‘Tradenet’ and police as dogs, bastards, bitches, thieves, criminalscomplains that he doesn’t know the esoko people. and gangsters among other expletives. The driverHe would like there to be a meeting so that they every time he re-enters the car is fuming. All thecould know one another and also some training on money lost will come ultimately from the owners’the new system that he says he was able to work pocket but will affect the amount of money thatbut that some of his colleagues have had trouble the owner will cut the driver in for. The issues withwith using the new interface. weighing are absurd, the driver when loading their trucks have no access to scales, the only scales are held by the weighing stations. If they enter a30/04/2010 weighing station and are over weight then they5.17 Corn wholesaler, Kumasi Central Market will be taken to court and will stand to loose 300Mohammad cedi. Standing outside the station for 10 minutes we saw about four drivers or mates go running toMohammad inherited his business from his father the station. They explained to me that unless youbut says that he was the first to move outside the feel that your load is particularly light they dare notcountry in search of grain. He says that it was the risk to enter the weigh station, it is better to payincrease in population but also the rising prices the 40 cedi than to risk the far higher fee. The onlyon the domestic market that encouraged him to way around this circumstance is to install weighingdo this. In order that he should be able trade with machines at the station that would need to be paidthe peoples of Mali or Burkina he had to learn the from their own station dues.language and so he speaks French and Hausa. He The drive is interrupted by an early issue with thehas built up his contacts over the last ten years and clutch or brakes overheating, a 15-minute stopthey are very important to him. Each trader has the and some fast action with a spanner loosens theparticular people that they work with and contacts parts suitably for us to continue. We drive at nightare vital to the success or failure of a business. He because the weather is cooler, setting off at 4 intravels up to Mali by public transport and then will the afternoon. We wait firstly for the money totravel between the farms collecting the suitable be delivered by the banks so that the fuel can beamount of goods. Once he has found enough then brought. Much of this transport was organised onhe usually has to wait for a cargo car that has come credit in the sense that money will be collected onup from Accra or Tema Ports to take the goods back delivery. Some of the items are paid for howeverto Kumasi. This sometimes takes as long as two so the buyers at least have a stake in the delivery.weeks but not often. He can usually rely on being on The forms are organised by Able the station agent,the road within one. he runs one of the busiest stations in ‘Race Course’ organising somewhere between two and six trucks per day. This has made him and the drivers quite03/05/2010 - 05/05/2010 successful. He provides them with waybills that5.18 Provisions Truck between Kumasi – Bolgatanga are provided to any police office or custom officialDriver: Thomas, Mate: Karium, Car Boy: Kojo that cares to request them. When sometimes they offer only a cedi to an officer the immediate callThis drive left me with a burning anger directed at for “papers!” is heard. Sometimes they go as far asthe police, carrying provisions such as car parts, peeking into the back of the truck to see if we werefoodstuffs and other assorted items our driver, on foolish enough to leave all the cocaine in one, large,the road for 19 hours straight worked a full day easily discernable pile.on both sides of the drive. He will be awake for The Police carry out a necessary service despite37 hours in all before resting until 5am and then their corruption, the armed gangs that ply thesemaking a few more drops in the Zebillia area. These routes are active nightly and the driver wasdrops he makes in the Zebilla area are jobs that adamant that upon reaching Kintampo at 2am wehe is contracted for privately or through the cargo would not leave until 2:40am the reason being thatstation but without the specific knowledge of the the gangs will generally melt back into the bushowner. It is this money that allows the drivers to before day break. That night there had alreadycontinue to eat despite the seemingly impossible been reports of an attack on the road coming intomathematics of their pay. When on the road we Techiman, we had passed earlier. The gangs areexperience approximately 8 or 9 unofficial police reported by the drivers by mobile to their stationblocks, 8 official barriers, 6 custom stations, 5 masters who in turn pass it around. Because theretollbooths and two weighing stations. Over these are only certain stations that deal with the tripstops the driver pays an average of two cedi except going to the north and specifically the Upper Eastfor the weighing stations that charge 40 cedi in the then they are able to do this. The station agentsouth and 20 in the north. In all they are stopped seemed to be nearly always available no matter
  20. 20. what time of the night. The drivers had previously with the different vehicles is not so easy. He hasmentioned that he was particularly good so whether people over here to do business, perhaps he canthis was behaviour beyond that of the common fill three to four buses in a day however the cargomaster I can’t say at this stage. is harder to find the loads for. There are only theWhen we left the station it turned out that getting millet market and the groundnut market where ato the fuelling station the driver had left his phone single buyer can buy a full truck, this is the samecharging at the station. This meant that we could for the cattle and for onions also. He says that thisnot leave as all of his drops will be either organised is the only comparable business between the cargoby having the phone numbers of those that he and the buses. The onion and the cattle marketneeds to deliver to or the place is so small that the is biggest in Garu and the onions are to be foundname is enough (Walewale). At the station the fuel in Zebilla. The loads come from inside the marketto the north cost 270 cedi however the driver said is they are foodstuff otherwise provisions arethat the trip to Bolgatanga costs three hundred. found within the station itself. The cargo chairmanThey had about 4 inches in the tank when we operates form within the market and is responsiblearrived. for all of the goods within the market. They mayThe driver on the road knows many of the cars that load a Kia truck if they are unable to find enoughwe passed other drivers of trucks would wave and to fill a cargo car. Any truck from any station willthe same can be said of the buses and trotros. It be used for a load. There are people who act asseems that they are a relatively small group. The agents or chairmen for the various commodities.unpacking of the goods is the responsibility of the Each is responsible for their particular area andowners and they are assisted by other drivers and will organise the trucks accordingly. They are ablemates in the vicinity. They scramble all over the to use any of the trucks that are in the stations.truck and throw the goods from person to pile. The There is one list for all of the trucks that is usedMate of the vehicle who is also the brother to the by all of the trucks and compiled by the regionalcar owner told me that the other day they were sectary. All the trucks park at the centeral stationstuck just outside Bolgatanga because the starter as there are no parking spaces in the other markets.motor in the engine failed, they were unable to find The cargo station is the busiest of the markets. Heenough people to push the truck because it was full says that the provisions market has not currentlyof goods an therefore very heavy. They were able to loaded for the last two days. He say that this isfind a mechanic the next day, who was able to fix not the case for the cargo market where they havethe problem. loading perhaps twice a day. September throughWhen we were able to discuss the findings of the to March experiences a busier period as there isstudy so far he thought that the premise of the first the Christmas rush and then later the sellingesoko system was good and agreed that more of cattle and livestock. After March things becomecertainty over loads would certainly reduce the quiet again. When there are few cars in the stationamount that he charges for a load. We also agreed there are perhaps only 10 cars in the station. Whenthat the SOS service could be improved by involving busy there may be around 40 cars in the station, thestations on the road. He said that the amounts that cattle markets can load maybe 3 cars in a day, thethe drivers pay them is too small and that they sheep and goats can be another 4 cars in a day. Theare also sometimes very particular about where beans market can load perhaps 6-7 cars in a day.maintenance is done to the point that the drivers in the basket market they can load maybe 2 carsmay be forced to drive the car despite the fact that in a day. Overall they tend to send maybe 20+ in aits clearly spoilt. As it turned out later the small day. At the moment after January there are morepay they receives also crates a situation where trucks coming from the south this is diminished orthe driver is forced to look for his own personal grows depending on the amounts of money thatwork in order to make extra money. It seems that people have available to spend. The waybills offerthe practice of doing this is very common. It was one of the most obvious forms of information thatactually in conversation with a police officer that I is held on the driver. Each day those with loadsfirst heard that this might be the case. need to come to collect a waybill. This waybill will declare the drivers name and the owners as well as the cargo that they are carrying. Every quarter06/05/2010 they have a review meeting. These waybills will5.19 Meeting with the regional GPRTU branch provide them the information in order that they canBolgatanga oversee the actions. The branches buy the waybillsRegional Chairman: Godfred Abulbire from the regional office. The regional office does not actually know where the goods are going. ThatGodfred Abulbire has been the chairman since 2003, the branch chairman holds information, the regionalhe was a trotro branch chaiman boss previous to office might technically control them howeverthis. The regional boss is incharge of all the vehicles they are only periodically coming to check-up onthat operate from the station. He says that dealing the work of the branch chairman. They collect a
  21. 21. development levy that is paid to the office. Theyexpect that the money will be used to build officespace as well as to deliver information to the drivers 06/05/2010such as notice as to the rise in toll charges. Besides 5.20 Meeting with the GPRTU Branch, Bolga Marketthis they also have a welfare fund, but these funds Cargo Stationare generally held by the branch chairman rather Chairman: Zackthan at the regional level. Before he became thechairman there were about 95% of members that Zack says that the prices of goods are heavilywere illiterate. This made understanding the law, dependent on where they are supposed to beunderstanding waybills and other exercises a bit going. He says that a bag of goods going to Temadifficult. The old practice of working regardless of costs 8 cedi, to Accra 6 cedi and Kumasi 5 cedi. Hethe law was still in the drivers. They held periodic says that they load no trucks going to the Northmeetings to try and change attitudes towards this as most of what is found in the Bolgatanga is alsoas well as deciding that there should be at least found further north. The trucks that go this way are2 literates within the 5 executive members of the mostly coming form the ports with goods that theystation. He says that the problem of weight was are unable to get from their own regions. He saysnot a problem to do with the lack of scales. He says buyers of the goods that they sell in the market arethat previous to the introduction of the scales the always from the south, from Techiman, Kumasi anddrivers knew if they were in or under weight. He Accra general but that the producers are alwayssays the problem is attitude. He says that if a driver from the north. In order to find the loads for theknows that he is supposed to load 400-500 bags in buyers Zack will either be selling goods that arehis truck then they will want to take 600, for the delivered to the market otherwise he will rely on theextra money from the bags. He says that this is the producers phoning him to tell him that the goodssame for the Yutong buses that are supposed to be are ready for collection. In this case he will provideonly taking 49 people and yet they continue to add the trucks and link them to the buyers. He hasmore people. The chairman made an address to the perhaps 30+ people that phone him ahead of timelocal branches concerning the nature of overloading to tell him that they have goods ready for collectionand that encouraging the drivers to obey the rules on the eve of a market day. This knowledge he willrequires that they try to explain that the actions then use to organise the collection of loads fromthat they are taking may be having some very the villages. He thinks that across 30+ peopleadverse effects such as destroying the road surface. phoning he will organise perhaps 6 or 7 loads.He says that rather than blaming the politicians They are mostly in the business of transportingthey should be aware that the road has a life span maize, groundnut, beans, rice and millet. They willlike anything and that if they are not careful they calculate the loads that the producers have basedwill destroy it. You need to demonstrate the reasons on the figures that they are given however thesewhy they should follow the law; otherwise they are sometimes inaccurate leading to a vehiclemove towards arresting the drivers that break the travelling with less than a full load of cargo. Thelaw. He says that this is necessary and that they Chairman will often send a junior brother tohave even advertised their numbers on the radio accompany the car to the rural markets. These carsso that people can report them if they overload the face a problem, as when the market people see thebus. He says that they need the drivers to behave car they will be keen to bag a place in it. This oftenbetter as it improves their ability to negotiate leads to them attesting to a quantity of bags thatwith government. The amount of work has not they don’t actually have as they then proceed tonecessarily increased or decreased, they have attempt to buy them from the market. These causesmore trucks than they used to have and more cars problems over the length of time needed to loadas well, they used to have only three stations for the vehicle but also arguments between the tradersKumasi but now they have 12 all competing for concerning the right to load. The small cars are notthe work. They have not thought it necessary for enough at the market for the loads that they arethem to advertise on the radio he says that the needed to carry however there are more of themGNCTA does this because they are a splinter group spread among the villages that service the smallerthat defected from the GPRTU after the chairman villages such as Walewale and Labasso. They spendmade a gaffe on the radio and said that he was not most of their time organising trucks to go to Accraresponsible for the cargo trucks. They are however as the most popular destination at the moment; hevery small and only really exist in Accra. They will says that they send nearly a truck every day. Now isstill work with the GPRTU however and they share the down season however and it’s much busy latertrucks and resources. Of the system he said that on. With the seasons and the changing years workhe was interested and could see the potential of has always been up and down. The biggest problemreducing the empty journeys that are made by the they face is the customs and the police who oftendrivers. tax them heavier than is fair or even profitable to the cargo owners from whom the money is

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