SIX years of entrusting the management of the vast Kejetia Transport Terminal, which is considered to be the biggest in West Africa, into private hands has resulted in phenomenal success.
Freko FD Limited, the manager, has also succeeded in introducing modernity into the running of the terminal.
An estimated 600,000 people pass through the Kejetia terminal daily and one can imagine the pressure on the management to adopt effective measures to keep the area running in line with modern trends.
When the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), decided to privatise the management of the terminal six years ago, some pessimists predicted doom for the whole exercise.
The sceptics advanced all manner of arguments to back their prediction. One of them, which looked interesting and difficult to understand, was that the company which had won the bid for the management of the terminal, Freko-FD Enterprise Limited, was headed by a woman and that a woman was incapable of managing a difficult area such as Kejetia effectively.
However, Freko-FD Limited has proved the sceptics wrong by effectively bringing sanity to the otherwise troublesome area.
Today, law and order reign at Kejetia, to the satisfaction of drivers, passengers and the thousands of people who use the terminal every day
The Government of Ghana, under the Urban II Project, funded the redevelopment of the Kejetia Transport Terminal, with assistance from the World Bank, under the supervision of the Department of Urban Roads.
It brought major positive changes to the once dirty and muddy terminal and it was just right that the KMA decided to entrust its management to a private company, in order to reap maximum benefits from the facility.
The decision by KMA in 2001 to privatise the management of the facility was premised on a number of factors, including the optimisation of the operations of the area, with emphasis on effective vehicular management, the implementation of prudent managerial practices, the maximisation of revenue and the effective maintenance of the facility to befit the status of Kumasi as the second biggest city in Ghana.
An agreement signed between Freko-FD Limited and the KMA provided that the company employ all the necessary and appropriate measures to ensure the security and comfort of passengers and other users of the facility, conduct periodic maintenance of the facility and protect the investment of the owners.
Freko-FD was expected to apply marketing techniques to attract commercial vehicle operators and travellers, with the view to increasing patronage of the facility.
Besides, the managers of the terminal were to employ qualified staff to take charge of various services, especially in the area of toll collection on a 24-hour basis as a way of maximising revenue from the use of the terminal.
As part of its responsibilities, the company insisted that vehicles operating from the terminal abide by KMA’s bye-laws and all road traffic regulations.
Measures were put in place to ensure legitimate means of entry and departure from the terminal, as well as putting restrictions on unauthorised parking.
Freko-FD’s managerial capabilities have been so evident, as it has operated within the dictates of the agreement with the KMA.
When the company took over the terminal, not every part of the facility had been renovated, yet it managed to pay the full concessionary fee of GH¢10,574.83 and a royalty of GH¢1,000 to the KMA in the first two months of operation.
One of the major benefits accruing from the privatisation of the management of the terminal has been the move by Freko-FD to complement the government’s efforts at addressing the unemployment challenges facing the youth of the metropolis.
From an initial workforce of 97, the company presently employs 223 people who are paid reasonable salaries and wages to man the various departments, including administration, security and traffic control and revenue and environmental/sanitation.
To address the conflicts that arose among various transport unions over the use of lorry parks, Freko-FD adopted the use of the names of towns as loading points, instead of the unions.
Just three months into its operations, Freko-FD established the Kejetia Police Post on September 2002 to check crime at the area.
The establishment of the police station was necessitated by the increasing crime wave in the area.
More than 4,000 cases have been handled at the police post, with about 1,200 of them having gone before the courts.
The well-equipped security sector of the company supports the policemen to effectively check criminal activities.
The company has an operations unit, with the primary functions of decongesting the terminal of unauthorised structures, preventing trading activities, as well as apprehending criminals.
A patrol unit is in place which patrols the terminal 24 hours in a bid to flush out criminals.
The company recently installed a 32-channel closed circuit television (CCTV) to monitor activities at the terminal and as a result people now feel safe to go about their activities.
Traffic congestion was in the past a common feature at Kejetia but the establishment of the traffic control unit has helped to reduce the problem to its minimum levels.
Revenue generation is the ultimate motive for the running of the terminal. Therefore, the revenue department of Freko-FD is a very important unit.
Revenue is generated from the tolls drivers pay, store licences, rental charges from shop owners, toilet and service charges for the use of toilets and urinal facilities.
In spite of the downward review of the tolls, the company has been paying an average of GH¢13,000 million per month as concessionary fees and royalties.
The maintenance of proper sanitation is key to improving the health of the people. That is why the sanitation department has never relented its efforts at improving the sanitation situation at Kejetia.
The management of Freko-FD has acquired a cleaning machine to facilitate effective cleaning of the terminal. It has also set up an arbitration and settlement committee to mediate in disputes among store owners, drivers, passengers and other users of the facility.
The committee has been able to resolve over 90 disputes.
Education helps in shaping people for the better. Consequently, Freko-FD has established an information unit, which affords small and medium-scale businesses the opportunity to advertise their products.
Periodically, the company invites professionals to speak on various educational programmes.
Again, as part of its social responsibility, the company has constructed a spacious mosque to enable Muslims to worship peacefully and comfortably while on transit at the terminal.
The company once sponsored the Ghana Television (GTV) programme, ‘Mmaa Nkomo’ on hygiene and sanitation.
Freko-FD has also constructed a borehole at the terminal to provide potable water for passengers.
A restaurant and an artefacts shop are under construction to promote tourism and the culture of the people of Ashanti.
The abandoned fountain at the terminal was renovated to commemorate 50 years of Ghana’s independence.
Freko-FD has also made various donations to children’s homes and orphanages, particularly during Christmas.
The rehabilitation of parts of the terminal, which started late in 2006, is almost completed.
The company has had some challenges, including the assault of its security personnel by drivers. The security co-ordinator, Mr Seth Ofori, urged drivers to respect the security personnel because they were there to provide safety for all.
The managing director of the company, Madam Freda Darko, for her part, is proud of its achievements so far, especially as it had afforded her the opportunity to contribute her quota to Ghana’s socio-economic development.
She expressed delight at the fact that child labour had been discouraged at the terminal, stressing that the security personnel had been asked to prevent children from any form of labour at Kejetia.