The government through the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) and the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD), is bombarding former employees from the collapsed financial institutions, who lost their jobs through the sector’s cleanup exercise with taxes after they found solace in commercial driving.
The former employees, who have found some respite in online driving, say government is choking them with taxes, almost grinding their new business to a halt.
They are questioning government’s basis for the new charges introduced and enforced by the DVLA and are also demanding to know whether or not the said GHc120.00, charge, has any legislative backing.
“It is instructive to note that most personnel who are engaged in the Ridesharing driving are unemployed graduates and also many who have lost their jobs in the recent close down of Banks and other companies that have laid off staff.
These are Ghanaians who can do far better in their lives with the skill they have, but have no choice than to resort to this under the prevailing circumstances only to struggle to put bread and butter on the table of their children by this trade as a temporal measure”, the graduates turned drivers said.
Having formed a body known as Online Drivers Association (ODA), the drivers say but for government unlawful interference, they would have managed to make something out of this emerging online driving business to fend for themselves and their families.
According to the Association, the new charges are contained in the DVLA/MTTD guidelines designed for online hailing drivers’ apps.
They described as discriminatory the decision by authorities to design new guideline aimed at taxing online drivers who work with the likes of UBER, BOLT and YANKO whose service fee charges to these operating companies are pegged at 25percent, 20percent and 15percent respectively.
They pointed out the unfair treatment being meted out to them, while private car rental operators are not subjected to these stringent guidelines.
“But to our surprise, the new DVLA directive is not a law made to regulate the app companies but guidelines which turn out to be double payments in some instances.
This makes it suspicious since all the charges with the new DVLA directive seems to target only online drivers.
We say it discriminatory because other commercial drivers are not directed to do same. Examples of the commercial vehicles dealers like trotro, taxi, trucks and car rentals are not directed same.
In a press release it said “Foremost, we want the DVLA to clarify whether the charges that are being enforced have legislative backing?”
The Herald is aware that, the drivers have already initiated some steps, including a petition to the DVLA copied to the Minister of Transport, the Director of MTTD, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Transport, and the Ride Hailing Companies.
The new charges, said to be for verification of license and roadworthy, it appears has brought discomfort to these drivers and as a result, are demanding that it be suspended and a meeting between stakeholders be held to discuss the whole guideline before it is enforced finally if the need be.
The release said “An important component of the petition was for the DVLA to suspend collection of the GH¢120.00 fee being collected from Drivers for verification of License and Roadworthy until stakeholders meeting is organized to discuss this guideline and it implementation and matters arising”, the national Public Relations Officer (PRO) National Torgbo Wise and Ashanti Region’s Welfare Secretary, Isaac Boateng said.
While the DVLA has failed to respond to their petition, the sector Ministry, was unable to organize a successful meeting with the drivers, as they claim the much anticipated meeting ended in “Dismay”.
“It is regrettable that the Minister’s representative explicitly told Executive members of the Union that “it is a choice drivers have made to do this work and that if they are not satisfied they can stop”, she also threatened the Executives that “if the drivers resolve to curtail the process through any means, the Ministry will close down the Ride Hailing Apps and render the drivers jobless.”
It is pitiful that such intent will be conceived by the Ministry. In a similar statement, an official from the DVLA, expressly mentioned that “if it comes to the fee which is a matter of complaint, she can rest assured that, it has come to stay. This statement again we perceive as unfortunate”.
The aggrieved drivers said, it was expected of government to appreciates how the online driving business operates and the relief it is providing the otherwise unemployed former workers of these collapsed banks, than to identify it as a way to milk them dry.
“Therefore, it is rather expected of Government to appreciate how this system is providing some relief instead of public agitation and cry over unemployment. While the DVLA tries to force this new charge, the Association said other taxes including the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) income tax and others are In the offing yet to be Imposed on the same business.
The least to do is rather for Government to perceive that this is a lucrative venture and like Politicians are building mansions in 4 years of being in office, the drivers are equally competing with them and also building up mansions out of this.
It is also instructive to note that, while the DVLA is charging these fees, other taxes including GRA income tax, Ghana Tourism Authority tax, AMA Tax, VIT tax, and others are waiting to hit the Ridesharing Driver soon in the face”.
They continued “The driver is saddled with heavy operational expenditure including weekly servicing of vehicle, repair of breakdowns, weekly sales, App service charges (commissions) and expensive data and call taxes to mention a few.
Yet the fares charged by these Ride-Hailing Apps are cheap, making the driver work without necessarily earning any decent living. We would like to inform the general public and the media about the operations and activities involved in our work”.