A Deputy Minister for Roads and Transport, Titus Glover, has announced the suspension of the controversial towing tax for vehicle owners until further notice.
Confirming the decision on Eyewitness News on Monday, the Deputy Minister, said the suspension, which is in response to public concerns over the fees, will give Parliament time to reassess the Legislative Instrument supporting the fee.
“We are suspending it to ensure that the right things are done. If I say right things are done, I mean the public has not been given enough education. One of the major issues that has come up is the issue about the cost- the fees that they are paying , although it has been approved by Parliament. If it means that we have to go back to Parliament to amend that part of the fees that will be collected so people can have some respite, why not? What the Minister has done is to make sure that we listen to cry of the Ghanaian people…”
Mr. Glover explained that National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), in a bid to protect road users, introduced this intervention even before the NPP administration took over the helm of affairs.
“The principle and concept behind this idea was to get rid of broken down vehicles that were killing people on the roads. It is based on this idea that the National Road Safety Commission started this project way back before the NPP government came to office.”Government announced the suspension after the Roads and Transport Committee of Parliament met with the Road Safety Commission, the DVLA and other stakeholders over the matter.
According to the Ranking Member on the Committee, Governs Kwame Agbodza, the committee wants to probe the issues surrounding the implementation and possibly recommend the recall of the Legislative Instrument supporting the fee.
Some MPs including the Deputy Minority Leader, James Avedzi Klutse, had earlier called for the policy to be scrapped following these reactions. But Osei Wusu said the critics lack understanding of the issue.
Prior to the suspension, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joe Osei-Owusu, had described as narrow-minded, arguments against the mandatory towing fee.
In a Citi News interview, Mr. Osei-Owusu argued that, the policy is in the supreme interest of road users after research showed that a huge number of road accidents are caused by broken down vehicles.
The NRSC is expected to begin a nationwide towing programme in July 2017, to ensure that all vehicles that breakdown on highways are cleared off the roads.
For this reason, drivers are required to pay a road safety fee ranging between GHC 10 and GHC 200 in addition to their road worthy certification fees. Commercial vehicles and taxes will pay GH¢40, mini buses will pay GH¢80, while heavy duty trucks will pay between GH¢80 and GH¢200 annually, depending on their tonnage. Non-commercial vehicles are expected to pay GH¢20. The Road Safety Management Services Limited (RSMSL) has already acquired some 118 trucks ahead of the implementation, for the exercise. But several persons have kicked against the policy calling on government to scrap it immediately.
A former President of the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE), Ing. Magnus Lincoln Quarshie however says the approach is a total rip-off.
Mandatory towing fee criticisms baseless – Osei-Owusu
But Osei-Owusu, who once headed the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), insisted in an interview with Citi News’ Duke Mensah Opoku that the counter arguments are not tenable.
“Your car may never have to be towed but you can run into a vehicle that is disabled. Sometimes we are just parochial; we discuss the issue only on one side. What you are discussing is not your vehicle; it is the risk to road users. The risk that a broken down vehicle possesses is not to only the driver but to everyone who plies the road,” he stated. He urged that the arguments should revolve around the dangers that such broken down vehicles could cause to human lives. “Anytime there is a disabled vehicle on the road, there is a risk to the life of every road user. So if we don’t focus on removing the risk to the road and we focus on how much will it cost, who is doing the work, we’ll be missing the problem. It’s my vehicle that has broken down, and during the time, I don’t have money and it will genuinely happen to many people.”
“That is what politicians do; jumping on bandwagon…sometimes I think that some politicians are too hasty. If you ask them to go deep into the matter they have not even considered all the issues. As far as I’m concerned it is a risk to everybody.”
The 1st Deputy Speaker who was a lead discussant during the formulation of the policy in 2011, said initially the policy was to charge only heavy duty truck owners, but it was later extended to other categories of vehicles in order to create a pool of funds for undertaking such programme.
By: Ebenezer Afanyi Dadzie & Marian Ansah/citifmonline.com/Ghana