Scores of travelers in a last-minute rush to travel out of Accra yesterday to their various destinations for the Christmas holidays were stranded at most of the bus stations in Accra, as queues were mounting for tickets but there were not enough buses to meet the demand.
Major bus terminals such as the Inter-city STC terminals at both Tudu and Awudome Junction, the VIP Bus Station, the OA Bus Station and the Neoplan
Station had many passengers waiting in queues in a bid to purchase tickets to travel to places such as Kumasi, Tamale and Sunyani.
Normally, such scenes are seen on December 24, the day before Christmas, but most of the prospective travellers the Daily Graphic team spoke to on its rounds said they chose to travel on December 23 to avoid being caught in the congestion at the terminals on Christmas Eve.
A visit to the main STC yard last Friday and Saturday saw a number of passengers, many of them students, waiting for buses to convey them to Kumasi, Cape Coast and Tamale.
The students, most of them senior high school students on vacation, told the Daily Graphic that schools went on recess that Friday, and since there was no arrangement for buses to pick them from their schools, they were compelled to come all the way to the STC yard to travel to Kumasi.
At the VIP Station at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, most of the travellers were Kumasi bound. As of 11 a.m. yesterday when the Daily Graphic visited the station, there were five buses loading passengers to Kumasi simultaneously.
A number of travellers told the Daily Graphic team that they had sought permission from their employers to travel on December 23, instead of December 24, to avoid being stranded.
“Usually, we break from work on December 24 and I travel on the same day because I want to be at home with my family on Christmas.
Two years ago and last year, I got stranded, as there were no buses.
This time, I want to avoid that and so I asked permission to travel early,” Kofi Osei-Mensah, who was travelling to Kumasi, said.
There were more buses available to serve passengers travelling to Kumasi than other destinations and officials of the station said that was being done to avoid long queues, as demand for buses was higher for Kumasi.
Asked if that arrangement would ease the pressure that was expected on December 24, an official who gave her name as only Efua said it depended on whether the buses from Kumasi would get enough passengers to return to Accra on time.
“At this point, we are putting more buses on the Kumasi route.
Although we would want to avoid our customers being stranded, particularly those who would want to travel tomorrow, that can only be possible if the buses get passengers to be able to return on time from Kumasi,” she indicated.
While the long queue of travellers to Kumasi was moving, as there were more than two buses loading at a go, Sunyani-bound travellers were not that fortunate, as they were stuck in their long queue, with only one bus available to be loaded.
There was a long queue in front of one of the buses heading to Sunyani and it was the only bus available at the time the Daily Graphic visited the station.
The Daily Graphic was told that drivers of two buses expected to convey passengers had called to say they were stuck on the Amasaman -Accra road on their way to Accra.
The situation was not different at the OA Terminal, as many Kumasi and Techiman-bound buses had more passengers patronising them than buses to other destinations.
At the Tudu Lorry Station, travellers heading to Ho and Aflao were stranded, as there were no readily available buses.
A Station Manager at the Inter-city STC Station at Tudu, Mr John Anaba, explained that there was higher demand for buses travelling to Aflao.
He explained that although he had arranged for extra buses, they were not in because they were stuck in traffic, which delayed their arrival at the station.
He added that people who wanted advance tickets would be allowed to purchase them, provided they could make it to the station on time.
Many of the travellers who were not willing to wait in the queues opted for mini buses and vans at terminal points such as 2m Express.
A traveller, Joe Badu, told the Daily Graphic that he had been to both terminals of the STC but there were no buses available, and because he was unable to secure a ticket from VIP, he had opted to travel by a mini bus.
“The big buses are safer, but at this point I have to get to Kumasi this evening and so I’ve decided to travel with a mini bus, hoping that the driver will drive safely,” Kofi Baidoo explained when asked why he had chosen to travel by a mini bus.
Interactions with some passengers also revealed that transport fares had gone up.
Cedric, who said he had travelled from Winneba to catch a bus to Tamale, did not only have to wait till evening to get a ticket; the fare from Accra to Tamale had also gone up.
“I came all the way from Winneba to Accra so that I can get a bus to Tamale and I budgeted for GH¢80. I came around 7 a.m. and was told the bus to Tamale will be available in the evening.
Apart from that, the fare has also been increased by GH¢10.
Now I have to hang around from now till evening and that will affect my budget,” he added.
Heavy vehicular traffic
There was heavy vehicular traffic at the central business district of Accra.
There was a cacophony of honks from vehicles as they moved at a snail’s pace.
Motor riders, popular known as Okada, took advantage of the traffic to cash in on business.
Some people who decided to walk as a result of the vehicular traffic were seen patronising the Okadas which were parked at the side of the road.
Motorbikes were the order of the day as they were considered the fastest means of transportation, since they could evade the traffic.
The Daily Graphic team also observed that most vehicles approaching the Tudu and the Tema stations had their engines turned off in order to save fuel.