General News of Thu, 17 Jun 20043
MPs concerned about bribery by MTTU staff
Accra, June 17, GNA - Parliament on Thursday adopted the Committee on Roads and Transport's Report on the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, with calls by members for measures to stem bribery in the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) of the Police Service.
Prior to the adoption of the Report, Mr Emmanuel Adjei-Boye, Deputy Minister of Roads and Transport, in a motion for the second reading of the Bill, said the bill was meant among other things to empower the Police MTTU to collect spot fines from traffic offending drivers. A memorandum attached to the bill stated that, "The MTTU is given the power under the Bill to fine drivers, who violate specified traffic regulations. The fine is payable immediately the offending driver is arrested for the commission of the offence."
It says where the offender pays the spot fine no prosecution will ensue. However, where a person denies the commission of the offence or fails to pay a spot fine, the case shall be processed for court. Members of Parliament were critical of the provisions of the bill, saying that it gave the MTTU staff the powers of adjudication and of prosecution in addition to their powers of arrest.
They also noted that already, the MTTU staff were being accused of collecting bribes from traffic offenders, adding that the bill would only legalise that practice, if its implementation was not well monitored.
Mr Akwasi Afrifa, NPP - Fomena, asked: "Who watches the watchman?" He said the MTTU staff had always connived with offending drivers to evade fines and collected bribes, which would have otherwise gone into the national coffers.
Mr John Mahama, NDC - Bole, suggested that as a measure to prevent the MTTU staff from taking advantage of the bill to enrich themselves, "we must put a system in place that ensures that individual policemen received commissions on every spot fine they collect."
He also suggested that the Police should be re-oriented to make their presence obvious at various checkpoints to prevent drivers from causing offences, saying that MTTU staff usually hid at bus stops, behind electric poles and road side bushes just to have the chance of arresting traffic offenders and collecting bribes from them.
Mr Edward Salia, NDC-Jirapa, said the collection of spot fines should not be left for the MTTU staff alone adding that when the bill became a law, other young people could be employed to go round and collect the spot fines and be paid commission on how much they collected per day. Mr Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah, NDC- Wenchi West, suggested that to ensure effective implementation of the provisions of the bill, the Police MTTU should be decentralised into regional MTTUs for revenue generated in the various regions to be used to take care of the needs in that region. Mr Pele Abuga, NDC-Chiana Paga, said giving commission to MTTU officers on spot fines was not the best solution to solving the bribery problem in the Police service.
'Unless we take a holistic look at the issue of Police welfare in this country, any measure we put in place to ensure efficiency in the Police Service would simply not work," he said. "We expect the Police to work efficiently and honestly, but their welfare is poorly handled and that is why they collect bribes to make ends meet."
Mr Pele suggested that 50 per cent of revenue generated from the spot fines should be dedicated to Police welfare.
Mr Ken Dzirasah, Second Deputy Speaker, noted that the bill gave power to the Police to specifically charge spot fines on minor offences, saying that there was the need to determine what a minor offence was in order to determine what offence the Police could charge spot fines for. He also suggested that there should be specific amounts stated for specific offence, in order to prevent the Police from using their discretion to extort money from offenders.
Mr Steve Akorli, NDC- Ho East, noted that in the past, the implementation of The Road Traffic Ordinance of 1955, which under went various amendments, updating and re-codifying between 1996 and 2000, was discontinued for no apparent reason.
"In my view the discontinuation of the implementation was due to lack of sufficient equipment for the Police. Unless we address that issue properly, the implementation of this new amendment bill is bound to face a similar fate."