Don’t bring monopoly in towing services – Gov’t advised

Towing trucks and recovery vehicles of the Road Safety Management Services Limited are said to be wasting away because the project has been in limbo

An Economic Advisor at the Office of the Vice President has charged government and agencies considering the implementation of the controversial mandatory towing levy not to monopolize the programme.

Dr Gideon Boako said: “We should think of how we can diversify the contract. We do not have to bring in the element of monopoly because if it is given to one person, the cost will be huge, but we can bring in more companies who will be in charge of other regions”.

The Economic Advisor made the comment while contributing to discussions on TV3’s New Day on the approval by the Roads and Transport Committee of Parliament on the implementation of the towing levy to be imposed on vehicle owners.

The law, which was to have taken effect July 1, 2017, was suspended to enable the Transport Ministry hold stakeholder engagements, following the massive public disapproval it received.

As part of the law, vehicle owners and motorcyclists will pay compulsory annual fees, tied to the acquisition of road worthy certificate, to cater for towing services.

Fees per year for both commercial and non-commercial vehicles, depending on tonnage, range from GHȻ20 to GHȻ 200.

The National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) awarded the contract to the Road Safety Management Limited (RSML), a subsidiary of the Jospong Group owned by businessman Joseph Siaw Agyapong.

The Chairman of Roads and Transport Committee, Samuel Aye Paye, told the media on Tuesday that an abrogation of the contract would have led to the payment of judgement debt, hence the decision to okay it.

But Dr. Boako said “we have to make do with it but we have to make some key changes on the programme, that is, I have heard the contract was going to be given to one company but is the company going to have the capacity to provide the service to ensure that the entire nation is covered?”

“These things cover security so if you give it to one company and there is a problem, the whole nation will be in trouble, but if we diversify it, it will help sustained the programme,” he suggested.

“By intent, they mean well. They tried not to give the whole money to one entity because the NRSC, police, Transport Ministry and private person will all benefit but I don’t want the monopoly aspect as it is now.

“I don’t think anybody who is ready to go to work will park his car in the middle of the road and say he wants the towing service people to come and pick because he has paid. You do that at your own risk.”

‘More indiscipline’

A legal practitioner and a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Abraham Amaliba, expressed wonder “if our parliamentarians listen to the people they are representing in Parliament because this is a complete rip-off”.

“We are lazy to implement our laws but we are quick to make laws that will put money in private man’s pocket,” he bemoaned.

“Now that I know I have paid up front, I will park my car and ask [the towing service] to come and tow and this will breed indiscipline. People will park in the middle of the road and ask them to come and pay and what they have done will breed more indiscipline on our roads”.

Lawyer Amaliba suggested that more centers are created “and make them accessible to the drivers so that they could call when it breaks down. But what has been done is a rip off”.

An Insurance Marketer, Edgar Wiredu, who was also on the programme, said “I am disappointed because what data do we have to prove that most accidents that occur are as a result of disabled vehicles?”

“Because someone has signed a contract, you bring an LI there to elapse in 21 days then it becomes law. Are we saying we don’t have existing laws?” he asked.

The social commentator asked “why would you want to create the environment for someone to milk the nation? When did the National Ambulance pick an accident victim to a hospital? Where is the National Ambulance Service itself?”

Mr. Wiredu said “abandoned vehicles contribute less than 1% of accidents on our roads so the NRSC should bring their data on their claims that disabled vehicles constitute more accidents on our roads”.

”We are concerned about car tire, head ramps, and things like that and proper legislation should be done on that to ensure that they are safe. Why do we have second-hand tires imported into the country? Why do we allow tires that will expire in two years time to be imported? Why does the DVLA satisfy vehicles that are not road worthy?”

By Kweku Antwi-Otoo|Onua 95.1FM||Ghana

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