Suspend towing fees; it’s total rip off – Ex Ghana Engineers’ President tells Government

A former President of the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE), Ing. Magnus Lincoln Quarshie, has called on the Ghana’s National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), to immediately suspend charging a mandatory towing fee from vehicle owners.
According to him, the initiative raises too many questions, and it is also a total rip off, hence must be halted while further deliberations are held.

“As a Road Safety Campaigner, the idea to remove abandoned vehicles on our roads is indeed a laudable one. I am however strongly against how this very good ‘idea’ is to be implemented and wish to advise that the directive be suspended and thoroughly debated in order for it to achieve the desired results,” Ing. Quarshie, who is also a transportation engineer said in a statement.

“Also, this ‘fee’ raises a lot of questions as to why a state organization, will raise funds to support ‘a’ particular private business. To the best of my knowledge, towing service is not a novelty in this country, and there are a lot of towing companies operating in the country. How then does the state organization justify signing a contract with just one towing service provider for the whole of the country when there are equally competent towing companies around? How was the selection process conducted? And was it competitive?

The NRSC is expected to begin a nationwide towing programme in June 2017, to ensure that all vehicles that break down on highways are cleared off the roads.

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 taxis 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.

Some 118 trucks have been acquired by Road Safety Management Services Limited (RSMSL), the private company  contracted by the NRSC for the national towing service.

The Head of Communications at the NRSC, Kwame Kodua Atuahene, in an interview explained that, the move is geared towards reducing the risk of road users running into stationary vehicles; a trend which is responsible for over 20% of all road accidents in the country.

But Ing. Quarshie in the statement further said “…to suggest Ghanaians pay various sums of money ranging from GH¢10.00 –GH¢200.00 is a total rip off in my opinion.”

“The best practice as pertains in other jurisdictions has been that, a legislation is usually passed for vehicle owners to be registered with a tow garage usually through their insurance providers. All broken down vehicles which are not removed within stipulated time is then removed by the state and the owners surcharged. This approach ensures that the regulations on the removal of broken down vehicles are properly enforced by making the owner and the insurance companies directly responsible without undue burden on state agencies. This will also encourage Ghanaians to set up businesses for that purpose,” he noted.

The NRSC initiative is backed by an Act of Parliament.

The Message in Full:

June 1, 2017
Road Safety Fee for Vehicles from July?

I write in response to a news report published in the Daily Graphic newspaper on 29th May, 2017 and on your online portal www.citifmonline.com on the intention by the National Road Safety Commission to charge motorists, a mandatory Road Safety Fee when they take their vehicles to the DVLA for the renewal of their Road Worthy certificates. According to the Head of Communications at the NRSC, Mr. Kwame Koduah Atuahene, “Effective July 1 this year, vehicle owners will be required to pay a mandatory road safety fee each time they go to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to
renew their road worthy certificate. This is meant to help promote safety by way of providing a reliable towing service such that when vehicles break down, the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) can ensure that they are swiftly towed to help prevent crashes into stationary vehicles as well as help proven oil from leaking onto roads to destroy them”.

As a Road Safety Campaigner, the idea to remove abandoned vehicles on our roads is indeed a laudable one. I am however, strongly against how this very good “idea” is to be implemented and wish to advise that the directive be suspended and thoroughly debated in order for it to achieve the desired results.
The report appears to suggest that this fund is being raised to support RSMCL intended service, having signed a contract with NRSC. This in my opinion is lawlessness. Is it a fee or a levy or a penalty? If it is a fee, then in my opinion it must be fee for a service.
Also, this “fee” raises a lot of questions as to why a state organization, will raise funds to support ‘a’ particular private business. To the best of my knowledge towing service is not a novelty in this country and there are a lot of towing companies operating in the country. How then does the state organization justify signing a contract with just one towing service provider for the whole of the country when there are equally competent towing companies around? How was the selection process conducted? And was it competitive?

How can a parastatal sign a contract with a private company and then impose fees on the general public to finance it? If another person walks in with emission monitoring equipment and manages to sign a contract with a parastatal, then another fee is imposed and on and on? This is not fair to the public.

Secondly, to suggest Ghanaians pay various sums of money ranging from GH¢10.00 – GH¢200.00 is a total rip off in my opinion. What kind of financial model was used to arrive at these figures and what measures are we going to take in the event that the  state does not realize enough revenue to be able to pay off this private investor? Is it going to be charge on the state?
Thirdly, the assumption here by the framers of these mandatory fees is that, each vehicle will be towed. Again, we do have ECOWAS protocols and this decision by the framers; that all foreign vehicles entering our borders pay this fee, is a cause for
concern. If for some reason, a vehicle owner will enter the country once a particular year, is he or she subjected to this fee? Even water, which is such a social good is fee for service and not an imposition.

The best practice as pertains in other jurisdictions has been that, a legislation is usually passed for vehicle owners to be registered with a tow garage usually through their insurance providers. All broken down vehicles which are not removed within stipulated time is then removed by the state and the owners surcharged. This approach ensures that the regulations on the removal of broken down vehicles are properly enforced by making the owner and the insurance companies directly responsible without undue burden on state agencies. This will also encourage Ghanaians to set up businesses for
that purpose.
I call on the general public to reject this!
By:
Ing. Magnus Lincoln Quarshie FGhIE
Past President, Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE)

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