A place with interesting problems is Ghana Credit public domain

Ghana is suffering a problem which has a very simple indeed solution. Well, it’s simple to say, simple in economics, the politics of it might be rather hard. The problem is that they bought some good and decent modern buses from Sweden, from Scania. OK. But they can’t afford to run them. So, they’re largely not being used:

Aayalolo service: 150 Buses grounded, 60 others idle

This isn’t the usual story of maintenance not having been done. This is about the cost of operating them:

The buses at the terminal have been grounded because the operators of the buses, the Greater Accra Passenger Transport Executive (GAPTE), can no longer bear the cost of fuel.

Appeals are being made to central government of course. Which may or may not produce the necessary cash. But the thing is, well, they’re running a bus service, right? Which people pay to use? So, why not raise the fares to a level that will pay for the fuel?

Note that the workers haven’t been paid since March either.

“GAPTE has applied for a bailout from the government and it is expected that something fruitful will come out, since it cannot even pay its workers due to the huge cost of fueling and other administrative costs.

“It is our hope that when the assistance is offered, there will be a restructuring of the business because, as it stands now, we are in crisis,” a source told the Daily Graphic.”

Well, yes, that restructuring should be looking at the revenue side, shouldn’t it.

Now, we might say that a bus system is an essential attribute of a transport system. We might even be right. But essentials still need to be paid for and why shouldn’t they be paid for by those who find them essential – the people who use them? We could even say that higher prices will reduce ridership – probably, yes. But that’s fine, for the correct size of the bus system is however large a one passengers are prepared to pay for.

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