One person has been arrested during a protest by workers of the Neoplan bus terminal at Asafo, Kumasi, in the standoff between them and the State Transport Company Limited (STC).
This was after operators of the VIP buses and Inter-City STC clashed over a loading terminal on Monday morning.
It took the intervention of police to calm the situation, and the Ashanti Regional Security Council has promised to meet the leadership of the STC, and the Neoplan bus terminal to find a long-term solution to the impasse between both parties.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, and the Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive, were also at the scene.
Some officials of STC had visited the Asafo Market terminal to launch the Corporation’s new terminal, but they were denied access to the venue.
The STC’s move to Asafo was in line with the agenda of the new administration to open as many satellite stations as possible across the country, to make the Inter-City STC more accessible to passengers.
But operators of the VIP claim the move to relocate the STC station close to them was to scuttle their businesses and ‘steal their passengers.’
The also said STC’s decision to establish a loading place at the terminal, is not in order, since they already have two terminals within the Kumasi Metropolis.
Drivers from the Neoplan terminal blocked STC buses from moving, a development that prompted police to deploy over 20 officers to maintain order at the scene.
VIP scared of competition
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, the Deputy Managing Director for STC, Sintim Aboagye, said: “We are here at the Asafo market terminal in our bid to re-brand, recapture and re-position our brand. One of our strategic positions is to bring transport to the doorstep of the private users and we thought it wise to secure a spot at Asafo VIP near VIP station so in our attempt to launch the station this morning, we came here and realized VIP had virtually blocked us with about three of their buses, denying us access to the place that we legally acquired to carry out operations.”
He wondered why VIP carried out such a move when they had met all legal requirements to undertake their activities there.
“The place does not belong to STC. The place belongs to the Kokofu branch of GPRTU. They had a 25-year permit and they have exhausted only one year, so they have about 24 years outstanding. We have entered into the tenancy agreement with them and we have acquired the necessary legal documentation from KMA to protect us and everything that has to be done to allow us to start our operations has been done.”Mr. Aboagye believes that the VIP operators are only resisting because they are scared of competition.
STC failed to consult other GPRTU branches
But the Director of Finance for VIP, Prof. Lukmond Owusu Ansah, explained that his outfit staged the protest to oppose some GPRTU officials’ decision to give out part of its land to STC without the consent of other branches of GPRTU.
“This issue came up and there was a little bit of violence here and we told them and the matter was taken to Manhyia …They were told that the whole place was acquired by GPRTU and it was demarcated for the various branches… We have about 21 branches there and it is the property of GPRTU … One or two executives cannot sell the property of GPRTU to STC.
“It is the whole 21 union members who are just contesting that it is constitutionally wrong…We are only saying that STC cannot occupy GPRTU’S land. It is not a property of Kokofu Union. It is a property of GPRTU as a whole” he insisted.
He also denied suggestions that they VIP transport operators, are only resisting STC because they are scared of competition.
By: Hafiz Tijani & Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana