Research presentation by visiting academic Dr Michael Poku-Boansi, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Planning, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana and member of the Ghana Institute of Planners (GIP).
Research indicates that transport services in cities in developing countries are mostly informal and include the use of rickety and low occupancy vehicles such as minibuses, taxis, motorcycles and vans, operated by private groups or individuals. Due to this classification, two schools of thought have emerged. The first suggests that these informal transport service sector operators in most cases operate outside the officially sanctioned public transport sector and as a result should be regarded as nuisance due to its disorganised nature, calling for public intervention and occasional eradication. Given its disorganised nature, informal transport service operators are identified with urban problems including low level of services, high rates of collision and accidents, increased congestion in cities, erratic scheduling and services, inadequate and lack of capacity and evasion of taxes and fees. In contrast, the other school of thought supports and emphasises the critical role these private operators play in meeting the mobility demand of the urban population, as in some jurisdictions (e.g., Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal) provide over 50% of transport services. Public transport service provision in Ghana has undergone several transformations since pre-colonial times, both structured and disorganised development. However, to avoid the gradual decay of public transport service provision in Ghana, the government of Ghana since 2005 has initiated plans to introduce Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) services as a way of improving efficiency in public transport services. The Ghana UTP seeks to among other things to improve mobility within Ghana’s urban centres and to shift to more environmentally-sustainable transport modes and lower transport-related GHG emissions. Although the BRT project is yet to be fully roll out, its implementation is already facing some resistance from the informal public transport operators due to, a large extent, mistrust between the informal public transport operators and the government. The informal public transport operators consider this government intervention (BRT) as a strategy to make their operations inefficient and unpopular among Ghanaians. As a result, previous attempts to implement the project have failed, regardless of the potential benefits of the BRT. The purpose of my research is to explore ways of transition the uncoordinated informal public transport service operations in Ghana into a formal public transport service sector.