General News of 2014-07-15

Daylight stealing at tollbooths

Months of painstaking investigations by The aL-hAJJ have unearthed how some unscrupulous and heartless persons manning the numerous tollbooths dotted across the country are milking the state of millions of Ghana Cedis.
Without show of patriotism in the mobilization of the needed revenue to lift the country from its present economic quagmire, these ‘enemies of state’ have devised canny means to fill their pockets with monies that originally should have gone to the state coffers.
Not even calls by economic gurus and policy experts on the Ghana Revenue Authority to adopt innovative ways to shore up domestic revenue mobilization would prick the conscience of these self-centered tollbooth officials to put the interest of nation ahead of their parochial benefit The operations of the nation wrecking tollbooth personnel is prevalent at places where their operations are not automated; they conspire with ‘friendly’ commercial drivers to deny the state of revenue.
Akin to the win-win situation, The aL-hAJJ’s investigation revealed that personnel hired to man the tollbooths allow their co-conspirators (commercial drivers) to pay half of what they are required by law to pay.
The drivers are then not given a ticket as the money ends in the pocket of the personnel. In essence, a driver who is required to pay Ghc1 per trip gets 50Gp discount while the official also benefits 50Gp.
This paper’s investigations showed that the dubious act is not done at weekends as it is believed most senior officials of the state ply the roads. Also, the practice is only done to commercial drivers who frequently use the road and are friends to the personnel.
Though the fraudulent act is widespread in the country, especially where the tollbooths are not automated, the practice is pervasive on the Madina-Adentan-Aburi road.
At one such tollbooth at Ayi Mensah, the awful practice is such that when a commercial driver who falls within the bracket of those who pay half fares gets to the booth, he either gives Ghc10 or Ghc20 to an official at the booth.
The personnel then balance the drive and fold it as though he/she had concealed the ticket in the money. This is done to obviate any suspicion from passengers. The driver then honks and off he goes.
The National Democratic Congress under late President John Evans Atta Mills in 2010 reviewed tolls with the approval by parliament of a new road and bridge tolls under Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 2009, Act 793.
Consequently, motorbikes which previously were exempted from the payment of tolls under the new law are being made to pay 10Gp; saloon cars which used to pay 5Gp are paying 50Gp, while pick-ups and light buses pay Ghc1, from the 8Gp they used to pay.
The others are mummy wagons, Ghc1; heavy buses and light goods truck (tow axes), Ghc1.50; medium goods truck (three axles), Ghc2; heavy good truck (four axles), Ghc2, heavy goods truck (five and more axles) Ghc2.50; agricultural tractors, 50Gp, and agricultural tractors with trailer, 50Gp.
The then Minister of Roads and Highways, Joe Gidisu, explained that the decision to increase tolls fares was to mobilize more resources for the construction and maintenance of road.
But it is gradually becoming apparent that the purpose for which the new fares were introduced has been defeated as personnel contracted to mobilize collect the fares have ‘sign’ a pact with commercial drivers to rob the state of monies due it.