Since a swoop by the police in Accra on the illegal and improper use of defective vehicle (DV) and drive-from-port (DP) trade (number) plates a fortnight ago, garage owners have accused the police of impounding the vehicles of duly registered members of the Vehicle and Asset Dealers Association of Ghana (VADAG), although the members were lawfully using their plates.
The police have, on the other hand, insisted that those who were rounded up were found not to be using the plates as stipulated by law.
We are not interested in the banter between the police and the garage owners. Our concern borders on the implication of the wrongful use of the DV and DP plates on our security and its contribution to the upsurge in crime in the country.
The General Secretary of VADAG, Nana Yaw Owusu Duodu, has himself admitted that “a great number of miscreants have infiltrated the car-selling industry with the sole aim of duping innocent customers and perpetuation of other forms of crime”.
The Accra Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Mr Tetteh Yohuno, has also stated that unregistered vehicles posed security threat concerns to the police and the public because the police are unable to trace such vehicles when they are involved in criminal offences.
As he pointed out, it was common knowledge that some persons did not paste the DV and DP plates on the cars but hung them with a piece of rope, which meants they could quickly be removed after committing crimes with the vehicles or if they were involved in accidents.
According to the Road Traffic Act 2004, DV and DP number plates, also referred to as trade licence, can be used when a motor vehicle has been unloaded from a ship and is being driven to the garage. So the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) issues DV and DP number plates to garage owners and car dealers to assist them in transporting vehicles from the ports to homes, garages or mechanic shops.
The DV and DP plates are also used for transporting vehicles to the offices of the DVLA for registration and for test-driving or trial by prospective buyers, while it is unlawful to use vehicles with DV and DP number plates beyond 7 p.m.
The Daily Graphic believes that if the garage owners use the DV and DP plates only as required by law, they will not have any problems with the police, who are mandated to enforce the law for the security of the public.
It is mostly during the fast approaching Yuletide that many DV and DP vehicles are seen on the streets. We, therefore, urge the registered garage owners to educate their members on the correct use of the two plates to assist the police to weed out all miscreants and ensure the safety of all Ghanaians.
The Daily Graphic thinks the police should move a step further to impound some vehicles in the night, instead of the present practice where the police stop some vehicles and after questioning the drivers, ask them to move on.
Members of the public who watch such scenes very frequently conclude that such exercises are only meant to enrich some members of the night police patrols.
We challenge the police to prove this assertion to be false by weeding out users of unregistered vehicles from the streets.