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Does Ghana Need Price Regulation for Transformation? 

In the absence of price regulation, consumers are left with limited alternatives. Taxis, unlike their regulated counterparts in more developed nations, operate at the discretion of the driver, resulting in arbitrary pricing.

Yesterday morning, I found myself waiting at the Ridge Roundabout for an Uber. During my wait, a taxi driver approached and inquired about my destination. Upon learning I was headed to High Street, approximately a 10–12-minute journey from Ridge Roundabout, he quoted a fare of GH¢50. An Uber ride would have cost only GH¢15.

Astonished, I questioned, “GH¢50 for a 10-minute ride? How much is a liter of petrol?”

His response was a laugh, followed by a reduction to GH¢40, which I respectfully declined, opting to wait for an Uber instead.

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Later that morning, while traveling to Ring Road with another Uber driver, I recounted my earlier experience, prompting him to offer insights that provoked contemplation. “What outcome can we expect when prices in Ghana are left unregulated?”

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This question lingered in my mind as I embarked on an experiment.

I visited five different shops and inquired about the price of Yazz sanitary pads. The quotes ranged from GH¢18 to GH¢22, highlighting the inconsistency in pricing across locations. Such disparities leave consumers vulnerable to both profit and loss, depending on where they choose to make their purchases — an unsettling reality.

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Returning to the issue of transportation, I noticed a consistent trend of escalating Uber fares on the Atta Mills High Street and sought clarification from a driver on the scarcity of Uber drivers in the area. He revealed that many drivers, burdened by rising fuel costs, have withdrawn from the market due to diminishing profits. Consequently, the scarcity of drivers has led to increased fares, creating a scenario where demand outstrips supply, thus driving up prices.

In the absence of price regulation, consumers are left with limited alternatives. Taxis, unlike their regulated counterparts in more developed nations, operate at the discretion of the driver, resulting in arbitrary pricing based on subjective factors such as route perception and traffic anticipation and not a standardized meter that measures wait time and distance like that in the advanced countries. This lack of standardisation exacerbates the issue, as passengers are often faced with exorbitant fares comparable to those of Uber rides.

Alternatively, passengers may opt for ‘trotros’, albeit with their own set of inconveniences such as overcrowding and discomfort. Despite these drawbacks, trotro drivers appear to be capitalizing on the situation, emerging as beneficiaries in a market plagued by instability.

While the prospect of price regulation in Ghana presents challenges, it remains a viable solution to instill much-needed stability. However, effective regulation in the transportation sector necessitates government intervention to foster genuine competition.

Drawing inspiration from models such as those in America, where convenient bus services with scheduled routes and subway systems provide affordable alternatives, Ghana could adopt similar strategies to alleviate the burden on consumers. Ultimately, the introduction of competitive alternatives would mitigate the unchecked pricing practices prevalent in the transportation sector, ensuring fair and consistent pricing for all passengers

So, the answer to my question is yes, we do.

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