Addressing the Challenges in Ghana’s Road Sector

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The Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) was established as a corporate body by the GHA Decree 1974 (NRCD 298). NRCD 298 was repealed by GHA Act 1997 (Act 540) which however, kept the Authority’s existence with responsibility for the administration, control, development and maintenance of the country’s trunk road network totaling 13,367 km and related facilities.
GHA’s 13,367 km trunk roads make about 33% of Ghana’s total road network of 40,186 km. In 2009, the Transport Sector was re-grouped and re-named as Ministry of Roads & Highways and the Ministry of Transport with oversight responsibilities for all Transport Sector Agencies.
The MoRH was in charge of road infrastructure Agencies while the MoT was in charge of the Transport Sector Policies and Programmes with oversight responsibility for all Transport Sector Agencies.
The National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) of Ghana was established by an Act of Parliament (NRSC Act 567 of 1999). The Act mandates the NRSC to play the lead role in championing, promoting and coordinating Road Safety activities in Ghana.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) is a public-sector organisation under the Ministry of Transport, established in 1999 by an Act of Parliament (Act 569), 1999, with the mandate to promote good driving standards in the country and as well as ensure the use of road worthy vehicles on the roads and other public places.
Reports have shown that, the first quarter of 2018 recorded a total of 1703 road crashes, where 3193 vehicles were involved, 470 fatalities and 3342 injuries.
As per the Ghana Highway Authority ACT (Act No. 540 of 1997) Section 2-Object of Authority, it states that, the Authority shall be subject to the policies of the Ministry and be responsible for the administration, control, development and maintenance of trunk roads and related facilities.
In this case, the state policy clearly prevents any private entity or person from constructing, operate and maintain even a section of a road in the country.
Looking at the Sections 3 which talks about the Functions of the Authority and 4, the Delegation of Functions to District Assemblies and Others, it also states that, the Authority may with the approval of the Minister in writing delegate to a District Assembly or any competent body of person the control, maintenance and protection of a trunk road but no delegation shall be made to a District Assembly without previous consultation with the Minister responsible for Local Government and Rural Development.
Again, the ancillary functions of the Authority may be delegated under sub-section but these shall be specifically stated in the document delegating the power of the Authority.
Another problem underpinned is also the monopoly of Government (the state) with regards to the Road Worthy System and its related issues thereof.
In Ghana, the Vehicle Inspection and Technical Organization (VITO) under the auspices of the DVLA is the only institution in charge of issuing road worthy certificates. It is a part of the DVLA’s licensing function’ oversight responsibility.
The Driver and Vehicle licensing Authority (DVLA), has been established to outsource the road worthy renewals to VITO, but one thing realized when we spoke to residents was that, they were so much worried about the over 200% increment in the cost of renewal for a single vehicle, which indicates that it is a complete rip-off.
According to them, they used to pay GH¢ 30 as at December 2015 to renew the road worthy certificate of a single vehicle, only to be slapped with GH¢ 90 for the same service rendered weeks later, wondering what had changed.
They as well complained that, the area used by VITO as a service point is inaccessible coupled with poor service delivery as there is only one outlet attending to the needs of hundreds of motorists who spend several hours and in some cases days before they are served.
Meanwhile, Ultimate 1069.com reported that, officials of the DVLA in the Ashanti Region indicated there was little they could do about the situation since the decision to outsource that component of service is a management one.
With respect to the road worthy, it was realized that, the DVLA has only delegated its monopoly to a private company through sole sourcing, the yardstick and the metrics which formed the basis for the fixing of the new road worthy prices were not known, and the delegation of power and function of the DVLA to the VITO was not and will not take away the operations of the middle-men (goro boys) from perpetuating corruption.
The road construction on the other hand, allowed government to decide which roads to fix or construct at a particular time, only to score political points, It also limited the choice of the people in terms of what quality of roads to use. We can even look at the brands of vehicles that can be used in the country being limited by the types of roads in existence, a lot of productive time is expended in traffic jam which perpetuates poverty, and the monopoly of the road constructions to the government makes room for corruption through over-bloating of budgets which then leads to shabby work done which one way or the other contributes to carnage on the roads.
Some possible recommendations; Individual citizens who have the wherewithal should be licensed to own and run Road Worthy shops to prevent the monopoly, Communities or individuals should be allowed to own some roads, in terms of construction, operation and maintenance. This will promote creativity and lead to the availability of good roads which will ease traffic to a greater extent.
Also, there should be an inter-ministerial approach to road construction where technocrats and experts would be involved in the construction of roads, there should be  proper auditing, the spending reports of the DVLA and other Road construction stakeholders should also be publicized to appreciate the people.
Again, it is the people’s taxes which are used to fund these authorities and commissions, thus, the people should be accounted to, and importantly import duties on vehicles should be reduced drastically so that people would not need to pass backdoors to bring in non-roadworthy vehicles into the country.
These gaps and possible recommendations in respect of the country’s road sector were compiled by Samuel Adjei Kwarteng, a Journalist with News Ghana, Efo Korku Mawutor, founder and CEO of Ego KM Consulting, Rita Aikins, a student of KNUST, Dayo Pelumi, an Industrial Chemist from Nigeria, and Ebenezer De-Gaulle, a Journalist with Kuul Fm in the Volta Region, Ho.
What informed the research was a two-day African Journalists for Economic Opportunities (AJEOT) 2018 workshop training which was organised by the Institute for Liberty and Policy Innovation (ILAPI) on June 24th, 2018, at the Summit Lodge in Koforidua, the Eastern Region of Ghana.
Source: Sammy Adjei

Ghana News Online

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