On Fuel Prices Increases & the African Art of Negotiation

I just received the following bit of news from Vodafone (one of the latter’s slightly more useful services):

The Ghana Road Transport Operators (GRTO) has announced a 10 percent increase in transport fares across the country.

My immediate thought is that since the government upped the fuel prices a few days ago, I have already had to factor it in to my every negotiation with taxi drivers since.

‘Afternoon Bossu, I want go Osu. How much? Ntoboase… me pa wo ky3w. Me wo palpitations wai’

‘(laughing) oh, twenty cedis p3h’

‘Ajei! M’akoma! But boss, why? You want give me heart attack?’

‘Oh, but massa, you know they have increased the fuel price…”

My question is how this 10% affects the already extensive negotiations I have do. Is it just the GRTO making things official? Or  does it mean I have to expect drivers to add an additional 10% to the cost that was already adjusted as soon as the fuel increase was announced? Because I wouldn’t put it past some drivers to argue that I pay more because of the fuel increase AND the 10% announcement.

Pardon me if that sounds ridiculous, but the truth is that we are living very ridiculous times in Ghana.

I remember once back when I was working in the Joy FM newsroom and the cost of fuel dropped.

Yes. This happened once. In our lifetime.

The government came out to say they expected transport costs to drop too. The people (or let me be honest: maybe it was just me) rejoiced. I had NEVER seen the price of ANYTHING EVER drop in Ghana.

Then I listened as a rep from GPRTU explained how – in spite the drop – something something something cost spread between number of people something something (insert magical, sorry I mean mathematical formula), therefore they couldn’t reduce their rates but they had to stay the same…

[Insert side-eye here]

I’m still waiting for the day when fuel prices go up and they say prices must in turn remain same because of the same magical formula. Or maybe it’s been happening and I just haven’t noticed. I don’t mean to knock taxi drivers: we’re all in the same daily grind outchea.

Truth is though, even if the GRTO or GPRTU didn’t issue such edicts, taxi drivers would still factor any fuel price increase into negotiations, because – let’s be honest – prices are not issued by any higher bodies. They are issued at street level, where negotiations involve not magic but sine equally mystic combination of knowledge of market reality, attire, accent, language, gift of gab, negotiation skill, the affluence of where you are being picked up or going to, etc, etc.

Frankly, the GRTO are just rubbing salt into already raw wounds. It’s not like there’s some official list of taxi prices listed somewhere that we can now add 10% to in preparing our daily budgets.


So what’s the point in their announcements besides insulting us?


3 thoughts on “On Fuel Prices Increases & the African Art of Negotiation

  1. I bought coconut this afternoon and had to side-eye the seller when he told me the price. He said, ‘Chemaa, you know the petrol price increase o’.


  2. This is perfect. We get similar announcements in Senegal and I have to up my negotiation skills with every taxi driver I meet. This is so spot on it’s hilarious! Ah the joys of being home 😉


  3. The fact that there are no fixed ‘prices’ for these drivers put me off. I literally had to do some maths with a taxi driver today. Calculated 10% of 20 Ghana cedis for him. He was like, ‘masa, wei nso na w’ani abere saa no?’ Why wouldn’t I be? mtchew


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