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.
According to the Head of Communications at the NRSC, Mr Kwame Koduah Atuahene, the service is to be run such that within one to two hours after a vehicle breaks down, a towing vehicle should be available to do the towing.
Motobikes to also pay
Owners of motorbikes will not be left out of the mandatory “towing fee” as they will pay GH¢10 annually while owners of non-commercial vehicles are expected to pay GH¢20.
For commercial vehicles, taxi owners 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.
In addition, foreign vehicles that are not required to go to the DVLA for road worthy certification would be made to pay the required fees at the points of entry.
“Owners of motorbikes have been captured because the law enforcing the collection of this fee, L1 71 (8) of 2012, defines vehicles to include motorbikes,” the Head of Communications at the NRSC, Mr Kwame Koduah Atuahene, told Graphic Online in an interview.
Why these new fees
Mr Atuahene said the move followed the successful completion of modalities and contractual arrangements with Road Safety Management Company Limited (RSMCL), a private company, to implement a nationwide towing service to clear all abandoned vehicles.
Mr Attuahene added that for the last three months, the commission had engaged most of the stakeholders on the initiative, adding that wider consultation and public consultation would continue across the country before the policy start officially.
“I can assure the public that we the NRSC went through all contract arrangements with our strategic partners to deliver quality service. The technical expertise has been met and what we need is for the public to support this cost-effective way of handling it,” he said.
There have been concerns by a section of the travelling public about the inability of the government to roll out a towing service that would remove all broken-down vehicles on the highways.
The Daily Graphic carried a publication in its February 27, 2017 issue in which some of the road users said lack of such a service was giving room to some miscreants to abandon their vehicles on the roads, sometimes leading to fatal accidents.
The road users therefore called for a towing service to clear all abandoned vehicles from the roads to reduce the numerous accidents associated with it.
What the mandatory charge?
There has also been concerns on why the NRSC had decided to make the payment mandatory. Others have suggested drivers and owners of broken down vehicles should be levied on the spot to pay for the service than make it mandatory for every vehicle.
Meanwhile 118 trucks that had been acquired by the RSMSL for the national towing service had not been put to use because of the inability of the NRSC to give the go-ahead for the implementation of the project.
Even though a contract was signed with the Road Safety Management Services Limited (RSMSL), a private company, last year to carry out the towing services, the initiative had stalled due to some implementation challenges.
The RSMSL was said to have fallen short of certain technical requirements, including parking space for towed vehicles as required by the law.
In the wake of the worrying statistics and the public outcry for towing services, NRSC gave the assurance that it would roll out the service by the end of the second quarter of this year.
It is estimated that road crashes due to abandoned vehicles on the road accounted for 21 per cent of deaths through road accident in 2016.
According to the NRSC, road accidents alone cost Ghana 1.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually, which translates into about 2,000 deaths on the average per year.
Also, almost 60 per cent of crash victims are within the productive bracket of 18 and 55 years, a situation which impacts the Ghanaian economy negatively.