National towing service dead
The plan to establish a national towing service as stipulated in the Road Traffic Regulation, L.1. 2180 to promptly remove vehicles that break down on the country’s roads has now been discarded.
The Communications Manager of the Road Safety Management Services Limited (RSMSL), Mr Roland Walker, told the Daily Graphic that following the government’s directive for all private tow companies to register with the Ministry of Transport and offer post-paid services, RSMSL was now offering its services to the motoring public on demand.
He confirmed that the contract to tow break-down vehicles had been set aside, following the public outcry last year about the mandatory tow levy.
In 2011, RSMSL won a contract to tow broken down vehicles on major roads. In 2013, the RSML signed an agreement with the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) pursuant to L.I. 2180 to tow broken down vehicles while motorists paid a mandatory levy.
The attempt to operationalise the contract generated a public outcry, forcing the RSML, which had imported 118 tow trucks into the country, to suspend its intention.
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According to Mr Walker, the Transport Sub Committee of Parliament was working on a draft amendment to L.I. 2180 to present to the plenary session.
The review seeks to remove the concept of mandatory towing levy on all owners and persons in charge of motor vehicles and trailers, as well as limit the role of the government in the provision of towing services to only licensing and regulating service providers.
Cost of operation
Mr Walker stated that about 35 of the company’s 118 tow trucks had been deployed in all regional capitals of the country but intimated that the company might withdraw those in the Upper East and Upper West regions because they were incurring cost being there.
“When we move the trucks, we have to pay the drivers as well as regularly service the vehicles so if they don’t bring revenue it is not worth leaving them there,” he said.
According to Mr Walker, the 83 remaining idle trucks were also creating cost for RSMSL as defective parts had to be replaced or repaired regularly although the trucks were not being used.
Checks by the Daily Graphic showed that an average of GH¢200 is charged for towing a vehicle within a 50 kilometre (km) radius.
The country continues to grapple with the timeous removal of disabled vehicles on the roads, which are a major cause of road accidents.
This necessitated the decision to contract a company to promptly take charge of such vehicles.
However, things got to a head in 2017 when the government, through the NRSC, announced that on July 1 that it would start implementing the L.I.2180, passed in 2012 which imposes a mandatory levy on all owners and persons in charge of motor vehicles for the purpose of towing break-down or disabled vehicles from the roads.
However, following a public uproar on the government’s decision and calls for a review of the mandatory towing levy, the government held extensive consultations with stakeholders in the transport sector, after which it decided to halt the implementation of the mandatory towing levy.
A statement signed by the Minister of Transport, Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, and issued in Accra on August 20, 2017, said the government had decided to seek a review of parts of L.I. 2180 (Road Traffic Regulations, 2012).
Regarding the current state of the national towing service, the Head of Communications at the NRSC, Mr Kwame Koduah Atuahene, said: “We were asked to revise the law; we have done that and it is with the AG’s Office.”
Asked if there was going to be a National Towing Service, he responded: “There will be a towing project but the structure has changed from what we proposed to do the other time.”
He also confirmed that the contract with RSMSL was no more, adding that the contract was frustrated and nobody could salvage it.
At a meeting with owners and representatives of towing companies in Accra on September 7, 2017, the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, announced that until the law on road traffic regulations was amended, owners of break-down vehicles would pay for the cost of mandatory towing services after the services had been delivered to ensure safety on the roads.
He explained that the arrangement was to ensure the provision of towing services, while awaiting the L.I. 2180 amendment process.