For the past few weeks one of the raging issues that has caught national attention and was covered extensively by the media space was the implementation of the mandatory towing levy. This was after the Parliamentary Select Committee on Transport of the 7th Parliament recommended to the government for the implementation of some sections of the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012.
In 2012, the 6th Parliament passed the Legislative Instrument 2180 (ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATIONS, 2012) which in regulation 102 (3) imposes a mandatory levy on all owners and persons in charge of motor vehicles, for the purpose of towing broken down or disabled vehicles on our roads.
The announcement however, by National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) that regulation 102 (3) of the Act will be implemented from July 1, 2017 was met with intense criticism. There were various groups which came out with some suggestions to review the Act. Others also called for its total withdrawal. The government however, pulled a ‘sharp break’ on the implementation of regulation 102 (3) of the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 due to the public uproar.
The suspension of the policy by government was contained in a statement signed by the Minister of Transport, Mr. Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, who explained that government took the decision after “extensive consultations between the minister of transport and stakeholders in the transport sector.”
The statement indicated that “upon consultations consequent to the calls, government has decided to seek a review of parts of the law specifically to achieve the following objectives.”
My problem with the minister’s statement is that the current chairman of the parliamentary select committee on transport was everywhere saying there was an extensive consultation with stakeholders before the law was passed so why its withdrawal?
Prior to the suspension, the current First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joe Osei-Owusu, who was a member of the committee, which worked on the draft bill which was later passed into law by the 6th Parliament had hit hard at critics of the levy.
According to him, critics of the levy lacked understanding of the mandatory towing fee and went further to describe as narrow-minded. After the suspension of the levy, some sections of the public were expecting the First Deputy Speaker to do the honourable thing by apologising to the public which he has failed to do.
But, for whatever it is, the suspension of the law by government which he (Hon. Osei-Owusu) played a key role has vindicated critics whom he described as narrow-minded.
I have been trying so hard to come to terms with the thinking of our lawmakers when they included in the law towing of tri-cycles and motor cycles. It is therefore a welcome news that government will remove from the law, the aspect of mandatory towing levy on all owners and persons in charge of motor vehicles and trailers. Again, why should the state levy vehicle owners to fund the business of one single operator.
But the problem was asking vehicle owners to pay upfront levies for breakdown vehicles to be towed in future when their vehicles breakdown. Sincerely speaking, the current proposal where vehicle owners have to pay levies before they breakdown is not the best.
The way forward
Towing of breakdown vehicles should be made an insurance issue and we must use insurance principles to solve the problem. For now, all stakeholders should sit and engage the insurance companies in discussions for a system to be put in place for the insurance companies to handle fees paid for towing of vehicles which breakdown on the roads to minimise road accidents.
Like it’s done everywhere, insurance policies are made to cover unforeseeable situations and that in the event of an accident or breakdown of vehicles, insurance companies should be made to pay for the cost of the service rendered in towing the vehicle to safety and/or a garage to ensure effective maintenance, test, examination and roadworthiness of vehicles as a way to avoid frequent breakdown and for safety on the roads.
Again, the NRSC must also embark on an aggressive education campaign to get all Ghanaians to align in principles with the legislation, before any future implementation of the policy.
In order to ensure that the system works effectively, there should be sanity, accountability and monitoring of the companies.