A shady race to the bottom

BY: Nana Yaa Ofori-Atta

If they were capable of an iota of shame, every member of the Parliamentary Committee on Roads and Transport who had the unbridled nerve to recommend that the Ministry of Transport proceed with the implementation of that mandatory towing levy should be covered in engine oil and transported on their backsides up and down cocoa feeder roads. Slowly. Repeatedly.

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The chairman of the committee, Mr Samuel Ayeh-Paye, the erudite member for Ayensuano in the Eastern Region, has been in situ in the House since 2008. He was reported to have said that abrogating the contract for the mandatory towing levy would lead to potential judgement debts. So other than faffing around with a small ratio of cost sharing, the committee essentially recused itself of further responsibility.

If the committee could find the wherewithal to revise the terms of who gets paid what in spite of an apparently iron clad contract, then the excuse that their hands were tied, is just that, shady. Three years ago, the Ayensuano Assembly debated on whether to formally protest to the Speaker regarding their MP's absenteeism as an ex officio member from their meetings. The honourable gentlemen forcefully denied then that he had been notified in advance of meetings. The ranking member of the Committee is Kwame Agbodza, representing Adaklu in the Volta Region, Bipartisan twaddle.

The Minister of Transport, Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, has come to his belated and obvious sense. In a memo signed on Sunday, August 20, 2017 - perhaps he went to church and came back inspired by the good book - has stood down their tainted advice and instead called for more consultation.


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Parliament/Road Safety C’tee

As he jolly well should. This latter day failed attempt to jack up the country and tie up mine and your obligations as a vehicle owner or operator to one company - Road Safety Management Services Limited (RSMSL), a subsidiary of the Jospong Group of companies - was an act of brigandry that shouldn't have been allowed to fester and darken our legislative space in the first place.
It is the Parliament of Ghana that in 2012 had the disturbing shortsightedness to pass Legislative Instrument (LI) 2180 (Road Traffic Regulations) to impose a mandatory levy on all owners and persons in charge of operating vehicles for the purpose of towing broken-down or disabled vehicles on our roads.

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It is the 20-member National Road Safety Commission, headed now by Madam May Obiri-Yeboah, that championed the LI in the first place; they too should be pulled up tightly. Hard. Their insisting that this mandatory levy be paid to one service provider based on what criteria is at best, a scandalous dereliction of duty and abdication of sense. So is their lack of a suitably informative online presence. I did so want to know who else sits on the committee that was established in 1999 by an Act of Parliament to promote and coordinate Road Safety activities in Ghana.

That vehicle owners and those in charge of vehicles should be entirely responsible for the roadworthiness, insurance and if required, the removal of their vehicles from our largely unlit and often badly designed (for visibility) roads, I am in support of that. The handover of the management and thus payment of this essential service to one company is the glaring offence. Review you most certainly should and while you are at it, show that you are capable of conjugating in a 360 manner.

Auditor-General’s Report

The Auditor-General's report on the management and utilisation by our 216 District Assemblies of the Common Fund for the financial year ending December 31, 2016 makes for sorry reading. Violations of rules, regulations, policies and procedures resulted in a 32 per cent increase of GH¢16,9555, 282.93 over the previous year. The catalogue of 23 irregularities stretches from: unsupported payment; unaccounted funds; unbudgeted expenditure; unreceipted payment; uncollected revenue; acquisition of land without obtaining title deeds; failure to locate/obtain title to heavy duty equipment; and nestled quietly at the bottom of the shady pile is the indebtedness of Zoomlion Ghana of GH¢238,000.00 to an assembly. Zoomlion is a subsidiary of the same Jospong Group of companies at the centre of the aborted mandatory towing levy.

The mudslide in Sierra Leone left many dead, injured and homeless

Sierra Leone

Hundreds in Sierra Leone were drowned in their beds or overcome as they tried to escape their homes by a mountain of moving mud. It simply doesn't bear thinking about. Thousands more in a country that can ill afford yet another disaster have been left homeless and traumatised. Our formal response as a country led by the Vice- President, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, has been to donate $1 million worth of cash, food and supplies ferried on four relief flights and an offer to send volunteers to assist. Individuals and groups have also organised drop off centres. Give a little to Sierra Leone. It is not mandatory; it is a case of humanity.