The Chronicle is not happy about the Roads and Transport Select Committee’s recommendation pushing for the implementation of the tow tax.
About two months ago, the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) hinted it would begin a nationwide towing programme in July 2017, to ensure that all vehicles that breakdown on our highways are cleared off the roads.
Broken down vehicles on our highways have been blamed as the cause of several heartrending accidents, which led to the deaths of many innocent lives, hence the decision to introduce the tow tax law.
According to the policy, effective July 1, vehicle owners will be required to pay the mandatory Road Safety Fee each time they renew their road worthy certificate at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).
Commercial vehicles and taxis were to pay GH¢40, mini buses, GH¢80, while heavy duty trucks pay between GH¢80 and GH¢200 annually, depending on their tonnage.
Non-commercial vehicles, on the other hand, were to pay GH¢20, while motorbike owners were to pay GH¢10 annually.
However, members of the public, especially, drivers and civil society groups, raised their voices against the introduction of the tax.
While a section of the critics disagreed that the fee should be mandatory, others argued that there were no proper consultations before the legislation was passed.
Consequently, the government met with members of the Roads and Transport Select Committee in Parliament, NRSC, DVLA and other stakeholders over the issue, and subsequently suspended it.
The Ranking Member on the Committee, Kwame Agbodza, explained that it (the committee) wanted to probe the issues surrounding the implementation, and possibly, recommend the recall of the Legislative Instrument (LI) supporting the fee.
Some MPs, including the Deputy Minority Leader, James Avedzi Klutse, had earlier called for the policy to be scrapped, following these reactions, but, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joe Osei-Owusu, argued that the critics lacked understanding of the issue.
It is against this backdrop that The Chronicle is wondering why the Parliamentary Select Committee on Roads and Transport is now recommending the implementation of the tax.
Prior to the suspension of the tax, Ghanaians were made to believe that before the policy would be allowed to roll out, there would be adequate sensitisation programmes to educate the public on the issue.
The Chronicle is asking the Roads and Transport Committee what had so far gone into the so-called sensitisation and public education to warrant the implementation of the tax.
Has the government exhausted or completed its engagements of the mandatory tow tax with the relevant stakeholders to see whether or not there will be room for the necessary maneuvers that will ensure that the problem is solved in a manner that is generally acceptable to the broader population?
We are afraid that from the ongoing, sooner than later, civil society groups, individuals and other stakeholders will restage their open disapproval of the tax, which, when not handled properly, could ignite another public outcry, if not worse.
Let’s beware of the implementation of the ‘controversial’ tow tax!